President Yoweri Museveni Museveni has made a case for having a regional top-level leadership meeting on the usage of River Nile waters particularly on energy and irrigation.

This, according to Museveni, will address any disagreements among Nile Valley countries that may arise over its usage. His call comes amid a recurring stand off between Ethiopia and the the two downstream countries Egypt and Sudan over the construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) built by the former on the Blue Nile.

Egypt regards this giant hydropower dam which when completed will become Africa’s largest hydroelectric power generator and the world’s seventh-largest dam, as an existential threat to its waters and Sudan is concerned about the safety and effect of the dam on its dams and power stations.

“On the construction of the renaissance dam, I think we should have a top-level leadership meeting on the Nile, where we discuss the real issues; energy and irrigation,” Museveni said on Wednesday while hosting Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Alemtsehay Meseret Gelaw at State House, Entebbe.

In what seems to be a disapproval of Egypt’s claim that the construction of the dam reduced waters reaching it, the Ugandan leader said water was reduced by environmental changes.

“In any case, due to changes in the environment that led to the reduction of rain, the waters of the Nile had already reduced by 20bn cubic metres before reaching Egypt. These are the real issues and they have nothing to do with colonial treaties,” noted Museveni.

Ethiopia has severally indicated that they are ready for negotiations. They however rout for an Africa-led solution.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala in July last year, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Uganda, H.E Alemtsehay Meseret said that there is no need for the countries in question to involve the international community in the matter that the African Union can ably and competently handle.

President Museveni had earlier in May pledged to contact the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, for discussions aiming at bringing all parties’ points of view closer on the GERD and to start another round of ‘serious negotiations’ on the issue.

The President made the pledge during a meeting with Sudanese Foreign affairs Minister Maryam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, where her stressed Uganda’s support for ‘dialogue leading to the achievement mutual gains among all three parties of GERD.

He indicated that the correct approach to address the points of disagreement is to agree on a ‘specific strategic vision for managing the Nile waters.’

Museveni noted that operating the dam requires consideration the environmental aspects as well. As he stressed on understanding Sudan’s stance which is calling for ‘productive negotiations’ leading to results that will satisfy all parties.

At the start of this year, Dr Abiy revealed that the GERD will not only benefit the people of Ethiopia but also the downstream countries – Egypt and Sudan.

He said the dam should be seen as a centre of cooperation amongst the said countries since it brings enormous benefits to all, the region and the continent as well.

Abiy explained that Ethiopia’s intention in constructing the GERD is to enable the regulation function so that electricity generation from the infrastructure is uniform throughout the year, implying that as a hydropower dam, the GERD does not consume water but rather the water continues to flow downstream uninterrupted.

“The benefits for downstream countries are often untold. In Sudan, for example, the GERD provides ample protection against devastating floods and the effects of water shortage during drought and dry periods. It will help Sudanese water infrastructure to be operated optimally as they receive regulated flow,” said Dr Abiy.

“This means that more electricity could be generated from existing infrastructure and adequate and regular water could flow in the river downstream throughout the year to enable reliable water supply for people, agriculture, and the ecology. The GERD also brings more energy to the already interconnected systems of Sudan and Ethiopia as well as to others,” he added.

Abiy explained that Egypt also benefits from water conservation at the GERD instead of wastage of billions of cubic meters of water to evaporation and in downstream flood plains. The GERD also helps to prevent future spillage that overtops the Aswan Dam.

According to the Prime Minister, globally and in the Nile region, the GERD as a clean renewable energy source would help to reduce emission that could avoid up to 10.6 million tons of greenhouse gases if it were produced from fuel, coal or gas plants.

To the effect, he said, the “development of the GERD plays an important role in meeting and increasing renewable energy generation share towards Sustainable Development (SDG) Goal 7 and better water management of Goal 6 of the SDGs, as well as meeting many targets of Africa’s Agenda 2063.”

“For the Nile region and for all its citizens, the GERD has a potential to stabilize energy mix. Hydropower, due to its nature of flexible operation and suitability, can be put in operation in a matter of minutes and can enhance harnessing of other energy sources of solar and wind energy that are variable depending on weather and climate,” said Dr Abiy, adding that he has no doubts that the dam will also enable affordable energy provision to the region.

He explained that while perceived negative factors have been made more visible in the GERD discourse, the positive attributes rather outweigh the opposing rhetoric and downplay the potential for cooperation to mitigate negative factors, if such factors exist.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He...

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