Regional Efforts Set To Broker Truce To A Watery Standoff

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the African Union (AU) led mediation process, in which Kenya holds observer status, has shown that Africa can find homegrown solutions to its challenges, especially towards the resolution of the stand-off between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the utilization of the Nile River water.

Simmering tensions between the two States and Ethiopia have been brewing since the later made clear its intentions to start filling its Grand Renaissance Dam.

“This process has vividly shown that ‘African solutions to African problems ‘ is that the because of go. We can resolve our disputes through negotiations and mediation within the framework of the African Union,” Kenyatta said.

The dispute over the Nile River water was ignited by the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a mega hydroelectric power project upstream on the Blue Nile.

President Kenyatta reiterated Kenya’s support for the AU led tripartite negotiation and applauded the three countries for their commitment to finding a “mutually acceptable and sustainable resolution” of the dispute. He commended the AU panel of experts leading the negotiations for the progress towards the achievement of a win-win outcome for the parties involved. “I further join the Chair and Colleagues in commending our distinguished experts for the detailed feedback report and thus the progress made within the negotiations within a quick timeframe, despite the complexity of some of the issues that they’ve had to deal with,” President Kenyatta said. The President however cautioned the three countries against unilateral decisions that may derail the process of resolving the dispute. “I urge all stakeholders to continue adhering to the commitment and to refrain from taking actions or making statements which can jeopardize the negotiation process and reverse the gains made so far,” he cautioned.

Regional policy analysts have pointed out that at least for the coming two years, filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam without an agreement will not have any effect on the two downstream countries as there is enough water in the system to compensate for the amount Ethiopia plans to hold back.

Early this week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office indicated it had achieved its first year of filling the dam even though what was left out as if it was a natural process.

The reservoir features a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, albeit the target for the primary year was considerably quite that, at 4.9 billion cubic metres.

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