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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Issues in Development: The Development and Prosperity of the Nile Basin Nations as between Historical rights and Comparative Advantage (2-4)

As referred to in the previous column that a sort of review will be done as to what happened  since 2009

*In fact many conferences were held with the aim of convincing both Sudan and Egypt to sign the Entebbe agreement. Egypt was not keen since it was and still sticking to its historical rights and was not ready to relinquish or amend such rights.
* The Sudan’s position followed more or less the position of Egypt in spite of the fact that the developments in agricultural investments by the Gulf countries showed the need for more water.
*Egypt as seen from the media was never happy about the flows of investment funds from the Gulf countries lest that might mean more use of the Nile waters. One Egyptian said that ,”The policy of Sudan selling land is more dangerous than building dams (see our article in”.
*Ethiopia does not recognize the Nile water agreements since they were no party to these agreements (1902 and 1959). These facts seemed to give the Ethiopians the right to have no obligation towards either Sudan or Egypt and is behind their insistence to go ahead with the Renaissance Dam (RD) which will be completed in a few coming years. The Egyptian objections are well known. Still Ethiopia went on not heading sometimes the overt and hidden threats of Egypt.
* That is why Ethiopia signed the Common Frame Agreement (CFA) while Sudan declined in harmony with Egypt. One Senior Ethiopian Advisor on the water issues in Dar Esalam,Tanzania, asked  me wondering as to why Sudan always followed Egypt like a docile lamb. He added that this attitude made some  Ethiopians wondering? I answered by saying that if he ever read my small translated  book about Halaib Triangle (HT) 1958,the Crisis and how it was solved ,” would have known how the Sudanese nation and government were able to force late Gamal Abdel Nasir ( who was very strong at that time) to withdraw quickly  Egypt’s claim of HT and withdrew his forces out of HT and the issue tabled with the UN Security Council until today. Would Nasir have withdrawn from the UNSC if he had in his hands a concrete document which could have proved his country’s ownership of HT? I assured the Ethiopian Advisor  that he should differentiate between  people and governments!!
* The riparian nations decided to carry on trying to convert the ideas of the NBI. They decided to carry on without Sudan and Egypt hoping that they will sign later. According to my investigations nothing much was achieved since then. However certain developments had taken place most important being the construction of the MD which is to produce energy for Africa. It is a very welcome development that is so much needed by Africa. Ethiopia is exporting energy to a number neighbouring  countries including the Sudan. Something Sudan never hoped to get from the Aswan High Dam except the submerging of its old civilization by Lake Nasir so that they claim that Egypt is the cradle of the world civilization .Good for them.
* Many  waters ran under the bridge since 2009 that pushed the nations of the Nile Basin to forget what they could do by themselves to improve their lives and alleviate their poverty. Moreover, many problems were taking place among the main benefactors of the Nile i.e. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Between Ethiopia, Sudan on one side and Egypt on the other side as regards the MD. The usual habitual clinging to Egypt’s historical   rights in  addition also to its usual feeling of superiority.  In this case Sudan stood firm with Ethiopia on the potential benefits expected by Sudan. That led Ethiopia to   declare   that any attempt to touch the Sudan in any way, Ethiopia would take it to be against it and vice versa. This a subtle warning to Egypt  ! This is because there were certain inferences   as mentioned ealier , in the irresponsible Egyptian media to use military force against both Ethiopia MD and Sudan. The winds had changed direction!!Sudan is no longer a docile lamb according to the Ethiopian   Advisor as mentioned above .Moreover, Sudan started to raise the walls of the Roseires Dam to store 4 b.q.m of water something that had been resisted and obstructed in subtle ways  for almost four decades. Also recent tensions between Sudan on one side and Egypt on the other which is still brewing in spite of attempts to cool matters down. One of the reasons is Sudan’s stand in support of Ethiopia on the issue of the MD. The other the embargo on importing Egyptian goods specially fruits suspected to be irrigated by sewage water causing many diseases! This was due to our own failure to develop and enhance our agriculture since commencement of producing and exporting of oil in 1999. Moreover , the perennial issue of HT and other issues. These three countries cannot hope to go it alone or away from the other riparian nations. Since more attention is given to politics, the possibility is there that less attention will be given to the development of the Nile Basin and the risk of failing to produce enough food for the people of the Nile Basin.
This and many other issues  produce a very complicated state of affairs since every member of the Nile basin nations is pushed to think in isolation of the other without any hope for success. The NBI aims at spreading real confidence among members since water is a matter of life and death. If some players insist on their position, the other members will definitely resort to the international community, the UNSC or even the International Court of Justice to obtain what they believe is their legitimate need.
Now in such a complicated state of affairs is there any hope of proposing any sensible solution that could make the riparian nations forego the idea of historical rights in favour of a more meaningful development of the Nile basin which could produce a more equitable environment and alleviate their poverty on the basis of their comparative advantage using water as a major factor   of production. This is what one intends to do crazy as it might seem.