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From GERD to NERD: A New Agenda for Ethiopia

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dam 3 2By The Queen of Sheba
21 July 2020

Today marks the first official announcement on the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The highly anticipated news blasted: “the dams first-year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping.” This is a historic occasion of enormous proportion for Ethiopia—and a beacon of hope for the rest of (Sub-Saharan) Africa.

Indeed Ethiopia has ushered a new—and bright—era. Ethiopia is rising.

Ethiopia has effectively conquered the mighty river into total submission despite persistent, systematic, strategic, explicit and implicit conspiracies, hindrances and direct and proxy wars waged against it maliciously and blatantly through millennia.

It is time to pay tribute to all those Ethiopian leaders who conceived, pursued and realized the project starting from Emperor Haile Selassie II down to the incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. The same gratitude need to  be extended to so many unsung heroes and ordinary Ethiopians who overcame the monumental social, economic, logistical and political challenges in building this massive dam—second to none in Africa, and one of the biggest in the world.

We also have to thank those nations, think tanks, prominent politicians and personalities who have supported Ethiopia in its time of its need—as it faced huge diplomatic pressures and military threat—however short that this list may be.

It is also time to met out censure to those who have explicitly and implicitly, directly and indirectly opposed, resisted, and connived against Ethiopia’s sovereign rights to build a dam—just a dam, predominantly for power generation. The historical arch enemy of the Arab Republic of Egypt aside, the World Bank probably ranks at the top followed by other so called development partners.

We cannot also spare others who have been eerily silent in the face of cruel injustice, military threat and blatant intimidation. As Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently put it “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Ethiopia faced another instance of the League of Nations when fascist Italy invaded her—and largely stood on its own.

Ethiopia has prevailed against all odds and conspiracies laid out on its path to derail its development and progress. The systematic and well-orchestrated sabotage to thwart the tapping of the longest river in the world—which amounts to 70% of the total water resource in the country that contributes over 85% to the Nile—has been massively defeated.

Ethiopia has overcome—again. It has—once-and-for-all—shattered the colossal wall of Egyptian conspiracy, hegemony and sheer greed.

It is imperative that all those nearly a dozen upper riparian countries read from Ethiopia’s scripts to pursue such mega projects with national resolve, resilience, confidence and independence. They should never feel intimidated from pursuing their national development and economic prosperity through the deployment of their God-given resources—water or otherwise. A sequel to this mega dam—in any one of the riparian countries, including Ethiopia—that equitably, fairly and sustainably—tap the mighty river must go on in earnest.

The unjust, greedy, reprehensible and exploitative colonial agreements—embraced for millennia—are now terminally scrapped into the dustbin of history—ones and for all. It is thus important that the silent riparian countries promptly move into action in shaping the future agreements and narratives—and more so ensure their fair share of this colossal resource.

Ethiopia has accumulated a vast amount of technical knowledge and diplomatic acumen that other bona fide sister countries could draw from. It has also amassed huge experience in thwarting sabotages and hindrances including fabricated narratives and pseudo-sciences sponsored and financed by its arch enemy.

GERD is now a done deal. Period.

Ethiopia cannot wait to reap the fruits of its hard-earned investment—and sacrifice—and share it with our friends—and nemesis alike. Almighty willing, nothing will stop us from doing so.

It is time that Ethiopia shifted gears from GERD to NERD (Nuclear Energy for Revival and Development). Hopefully, Egypt will not stand on its path, though it may be naïve to think otherwise. This is simply because the big noise by Egypt—including all its machinations and saber-rattling—is not just about the dam or sheer greed or even jealousy. It is simply an utter contempt for Ethiopia from emerging into a global scene as the “Mother of the Nile”—to a river which has long been contrived as synonymous to Egypt as the Gift of the Nile.

It may be that the mantra of the “Mother of the Nile” after all carries more weight and currency than the “Gift of the Nile”. It is also not inconceivable that Egypt—an Arab nation—despises the fact that Ethiopia—a black nation—controls the taps of its Gift. Well, Egypt has to manage its ego to learn how to live under the shadow of the Mother who controls the mighty river.

It is to be recalled that General Al-Sisi shamefully ignored mediation by the African Union, when he served as its outgoing chair, instead opted to shuttle between Washington and Brussels to push a dishonest and corrupt agenda. The Arab Republic of Egypt has conclusively proven its contempt to (black) Africans and their institutions when it scoffed at the principles of “African solutions for African problems”.  Well, with implicit rejections and lip service from those, it eventually surrendered to this body—which has successfully (so far) dealt with the issue. This is not only a diplomatic coup d’etat for Ethiopia but massive political and strategic capital for the African Union at the global stage. Well done Ethiopia!

Now, Ethiopia has to move from the political, diplomatic and strategic preoccupation with building the dam to constructing something even bigger. It must now take up a new massive development project comparable to GERD.

This author envisages a transition from the intense dialogue which animated the Ethiopian social and political scene for building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to constructing a Nuclear Energy for Revival and Development (NERD) project. Is this a dream? Not really.

According to a news report “Russia And China Face-Off For Nuclear Dominance In Africa” published this week

The Rwandan parliament approved a plan for the Russian state-owned nuclear conglomerate Rosatom to build a brand new nuclear research facility, along with a nuclear reactor, in the Central African nation’s capital city of Kigali. This hard-won development comes as the latest step in a decades-long aggressive lobbying effort on the part of the Russian government and more specifically Rosatom to woo African nations into making deals with Russia, ostensibly for profit as well as influence on the African continent.

Quoting Germany’s Deutch Welle News

The [Kigali] Center of Nuclear Science and Technologies, planned for completion by 2024, will include nuclear research labs as well as a small research reactor with up to 10 MW capacity.

The report further notes that “Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia have signed similar deals with Rosatom, while countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Sudan and DRC have less expansive cooperation agreements.”

It is time that the narrative shifts from GERD to NERD.