The Nile River: Tackling an arising African conflict
News Agency of Nigeria
A scenario is unfolding in Africa between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Nile River. The project is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River that has been launched by Ethiopia and under construction since 2011.
As of October 2019, the work stood at approximately 70 per cent completion. Once completed, the reservoir could take anywhere between 5 years and 15 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period and agreements reached between the three countries.
It has an installed capacity to generate around 6.5 GW of Electricity. It is said that at its maximum capacity of 74 billion cubic metre (BCM), the GERD will store 150 per cent of the average annual flow of the Blue Nile, which is 49BCM. This is a serious concern to other riparian Nations along the flow of the river.
In a bid to find a level playing ground for all three countries in this issue, several meetings were held since 2014, with tempo picking up since late 2019 where Washington offered to facilitate talks between the three countries. At least 12 meetings were held between November 2019 and February 2020, culminating in a draft agreement that Ethiopia declined to sign.
In assessing the issue, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict prevention organisation, observed that Ethiopia is moving ahead with the construction in spite of Egypt’s apprehension of a reduced downstream flow of the Nile, the source of around 90 per cent of its freshwater supply.
The ICG states that the Nile basin countries could be drawn into conflict because the stakes are so high: Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric dam as a defining national development project; Sudan covets the cheap electricity and expanded agricultural production that it promises; and Egypt perceives the possible loss of water as an existential threat.
It also added that Ethiopia settled on a dam design featuring a huge reservoir, bigger, some experts contend, than what was needed for a dam intended to generate hydropower rather than to store water for irrigation.
It, therefore, suggested a two-step approach to find a level playing ground among the countries: first, they should build confidence by agreeing upon terms for filling the dam’s reservoir that do not harm downstream countries.
Next, they should negotiate a new, trans-boundary framework for resource sharing to avert future conflicts. Most urgent is the question of how quickly to fill the dam’s reservoir.
Apart from the ICG, other bodies have been involved in finding solution to the challenges facing these countries and the way forwards. In 2013, an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) was given the mandate to “review the design documents of the GERD, provide transparent information sharing and to solicit understanding of the benefits and costs accrued to the three countries and impacts if any of the GERD on the two downstream countries.”
A treaty, the “2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DoP)”, was even concluded between the three countries to guide this process. These Principles embraced relevant International law principles and guidelines governing trans-boundary international rivers, mainly not causing significant harm to riparian states, fair and appropriate use of Nile Water, ensuring sustainable development, regional cooperation, territorial integrity and building common trust, exchanging relevant information in a timely way and peaceful settlement of disputes.
DoP stipulated that the studies recommended by the IPoE shall be used to agree on the rules governing the filling and operation of the GERD and that the entire process should be completed within 15 months.
These provisions also make it incumbent on Ethiopia not to commence the first filling of the GERD, which Ethiopian officials declare could start next July, without an agreement with downstream riparian states.
While Egypt’s letter to the Security Council, a fortnight ago, raises the stakes further, the possibility of armed conflict stemming from the dam dispute is still “very unlikely. We could expect some sort of diplomatic escalation, more aggressive rhetoric.
But a negotiated resolution to this is obviously the best way out for everyone, and there still seems to be plenty of possibility of that,” William Davison of the ICG said.
Outside partners could help build confidence among parties. The European Investment Bank, which the Ethiopians perceive as less pro-Egyptian than the World Bank, might offer Addis funding for the last phase of dam construction.
Such funding could be conditional on Ethiopia cooperating on sticking points such as the fill rate. The EU and other friendly parties should continue its talks with downstream countries on potential guarantees (including loans) and other instruments to support those countries in years in which drought or other shocks endanger food security.
The U.S. and China, which enjoy close ties to some Nile basin governments, could also encourage parties to resolve their disputes before the GERD is completed.
Egypt and other States could consider rejoining the Nile Basin Initiative after enabling conditions are in place, being an important forum that brings together all riparian countries and a venue available for discussing mutually beneficial resource sharing.
Such talks would consider Egyptian proposals that, currently and in the future, upstream countries carry out major development projects in consultation with downstream nations.
A permanent institutional framework could also help the countries prepare for challenges down the road, including climate change-induced environmental shocks, notably variable rainfall patterns, which could cause greater water stress.
African Union’s 2020 theme of “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development” is very instructive in these arising challenges.
The union must give priority to concerns raised by different parties on the GERD project and the development and unity of the continent. The overall historical, economic and engineering impact of the project should form a basis for the way forward in this conflict that has been festering for the last decade.
The United Nations should, likewise, have an input that should significantly see to the attainment of silencing the gun in Africa. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria https://nnn.ng/the-nile-river-tackling-an-arising-african-conflict/
NCPC boss honours Bauchi, celebrates ‘Word Peace Day’ in the state
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, on Monday commended people of Bauchi state for living in peace regardless of their differences.
Speaking when he visited Gov. BalaMohammed, Pam said he was impressed by the peaceful atmosphere and had therefore decided to visit the state to celebrate the. ‘ World Peace Day’ there.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the United Nations has designated Sept. 21 of every year as ‘World Peace Day’ aimed at strengthening the ideals of peace.
He said that considering the peaceful nature of Bauchi, others needed to emulate the people and the state governor , whom he said never discriminated against followers of any faith.
He described Gov Mohammed as a ‘pilgrims-friendly, Chief Executive considering his inclusiveness and generosity, especially his administration resilience and fairness in appointing Christians into positions.
In his remarks, the governor commended the Christian community in the state for maintaining peace, unity and brotherhood, which further promoted and consolidated the fraternal relationship between Christian and Moslems.
He expressed delight that the state had remained peaceful and stable, just as he commended the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) for being proactive.
The governor pledged to increase the number of slots for indigent Christians performing pilgrimage, from the initial 100.
Mohammed, who declined to disclose the number of increment in the seats, urged Christians to always pray for peace and stability of the state and Nigeria at large .
He said that he was highly delighted to receive the Secretary, expressing confidence that the commission would benefit from the dynamic leadership of Pam..
Edited By: Remi Koleoso
At 75, UN remains true to aspirations of founders -Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the United Nations for remaining true to the aspirations of its founders, saying the international organisation has continued to play the crucial role of fostering global peace and security.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman disclosed that Buhari stated this when he joined world leaders at a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, on Monday.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the UN for the first time convened world leaders in a virtual format for the High-level meetings and the annual General Debate.
In his video message to the UN at 75 event, Buhari amplified Nigeria’s achievements at the UN since 1960 when the country officially joined the organisation.
He highlighted the country’s active contribution in human, financial and material resources to several United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, among other priorities.
The Nigerian leader said: ”On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I wish to express sincere felicitation to Member States for the giant strides taken towards achieving the objectives of the Organization thus far.
”Today’s celebration is a remarkable milestone in the history of the United Nations. It affords us the opportunity to review our progress and challenges as well as chart the course for our future.
”For over seven decades, the United ‘Nations has remained true to the aspirations of its founders. It continues to play a crucial role in fostering global peace and security.
”The Organisation has grown in membership and scope to reflect contemporary global trends.
”Collectively, we have improved and saved lives, as well as defended the rights of the vulnerable in adherence to the principles of the United Nations.
”More so, we have worked together to shelter refugees; foster development; invest in conflict resolution and peacekeeping; and promoted women’s and children’s rights.
”Moreover, we have jointly intensified the fight against deadly diseases such as Malaria, Ebola, Tuberculosis, and the Coronavirus pandemic.”
On decolonisation, the president called on Member States to abide by UN Resolution 1514 on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.
He warned that ‘‘the quest to realise total decolonisation remains incomplete as long as Non-Self-Governing territories continue to exist.’’
The Nigerian leader noted that beyond the spheres of peace and security, the United Nations had also played active roles in the decolonization of many territories.
”This was achieved through the adoption of many Resolutions that supported the independence and subsequent admission of over Eighty (80) territories into the Organization.
”However, the quest to realise total decolonisation remains incomplete as long as Non-Self-Governing territories continue to exist.
”In this regard, I call on Member States to abide by UN Resolution 1514 on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples,’’ he said.
On Nigeria’s participation at the UN, Buhari said the country has remained a reliable partner of the United Nations in its aspiration to achieve its mandate of a more peaceful, secure, and developed world.
”This year’s celebration is significant to Nigeria as it coincides with our Sixtieth (60) Anniversary of joining this esteemed Organization.
”As an active member of the Organisation, Nigeria has contributed human, financial and material resources to several United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
”We have also provided humanitarian aid to refugees and displaced persons; helped countries in tackling diseases such as Ebola and extended both human and financial resources as technical aid to other countries.
”In addition, we have served on five occasions as Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council and contributed significantly to the promotion of international peace and security,” he said.
According to him, in spite of progress made in safeguarding world peace and promoting global cooperation, the world is still faced with complex challenges.
”Efforts to address impediments for the attainment of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were undermined by the advent of Coronavirus pandemic which brought about unprecedented challenges that cannot be tackled by any single country or region.
”The inward-looking tendencies exhibited by Member States in the wake of the pandemic have particularly revealed an urgent need for us to strengthen international cooperation, unity and solidarity to address all negative developments including climate change, violent extremism, natural disasters, and cyber-security.
”However, as we continue to battle the pandemic and search for possible solutions, including an effective vaccine, we implore nations to adopt a global approach in addressing the global health emergency in a bid to build the future we want,” he said.
The president also used the occasion to emphasize the imperative of a fair and equitable representation in the Security Council, ”if we must achieve the United Nations we need.”
He said: ”The demand for the reform of the United Nations Security Council is just and a place for Africa in the very strategic Organ of the Organisation is long-overdue.
”In our collective effort to rebuild the United Nations of our dream, Nigeria reaffirms her commitment to upholding the principles of the United Nations including: Human Rights, Peace and Security, as well as Democratic governance.
”I, therefore, reiterate Nigeria’s rededication to multilateralism and the rules-based international system.
”It is my hope that this anniversary will encourage us to respond to the numerous challenges we face and support efforts aimed at building the United Nations System we desire.”
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz
FG urges states to provide infrastructure for film industry devt.
The Federal Government on Monday called on states to provide necessary infrastructure for the growth of the film industry to create wealth and employment for youths.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja while inaugurating the Steering Committee for the Reform and Commercialisation of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government is partially commercialising the NFC to effectively discharge its mandate to plan, promote, organise and co-ordinate the development of the motion picture industry in the country.
Inaugurating the committee, the minister underscored the need for states to invest in infrastructure to boost the film industry because of its potentials to create jobs and boost the economy
Relying on International Monetary Fund data, Mohammed said the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, is the second largest employer of labour and contributed N893 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.
The minister also noted that Nollywood could perform better if the needed infrastructure such as film houses and enabling environment were provided.
In a comparative analysis, the minister disclosed that Nigeria has only 142 cinema houses compared to South Africa with 782 cinema houses.
According to him, the US has 40,393 cinema houses while India and China have 11,209 and 50,976 cinema houses respectively.
“You cannot have a successful film industry without adequate cinema houses because the major revenue source of the industry is exhibition .
“The most successful film in Nigeria today is “Wedding Party 1 and 2” that grossed about two million dollars within a week through the cinema houses.
“You can imagine a gross of 2 million dollars using only 142 cinema houses, and how much the film would have grossed if we have about 1000 cinema houses for exhibition,” he said.
“That is why it is important to appeal to our state governments to invest in infrastructure in the industry.
“I do not think it will be too much for the state government to ensure they build one cinema house in each local government area of their states to give us an additional 774 cinema houses in the country.
“In India, 14 million people attend cinema daily and I can imagine the impact it will have on the economy,” he said.
The minister also underscored the need for states to look into building purpose-built arenas for concerts and shows to encourage creative artists.
“I will advise state governments to look into having arenas in each senatorial district or one in the state capital.
“I do not know of any place where we have purpose-built arena today because most places where we have concerts are not purpose-built.
“We have artists in Nigeria that can sell out anywhere in the world; Burna boy, Wiz Kid and Davido sold out in Arena 02 in London and in other big arenas over the world.
“The biggest arena in Nigeria which is not even purpose-built can only accommodate about 7000 people whereas the Arena 02 in London accommodates up to 20,000 people,” he said.
The minister also canvassed for easy acquisition of land and tax waivers for artistes and investors who would like to build cinema houses or invest generally in the industry.
He noted that apart from wealth and employment creation, promoting the film industry would help to build inclusion and reduce social tension.
The minister noted that the intention of the administration is to make Nigeria the capital of entertainment in Africa,
He said though the film industry had been largely driven by the private sector, the Federal Government had been supporting the industry by providing enabling environment and funding.
“In 2013, there was “Project Nollywood” in which the government made available to the sector about 17 million USD for the growth and promotion of the industry.
“I am also aware of the various multilateral injection of funds to this industry and we have also embarked on revolutionary reforms to reposition the industry,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Alex Okoh, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said with the tremendous potentials of the film industry to reposition the nation’s economy, the government needed to play a prominent role.
Okoh said that the government was reforming the NFC to take the leading role in harnessing the potentials in the sector.
He, however, clarified that the reform process “is not a privatisation of the corporation but the commercialisation of this important enterprise and agency of government.”
“The clarification is that in this reform process, there is no transfer of ownership, no sale of shares and no privatisation of the entity.
“It is basically to ensure the resident value of the enterprise and its commercial viability,” he said.
He said the steering committee being chaired by the minister would consider and approve the recommendations submitted by the project delivery team for the commercialisation of the corporation.
Other members of the steering committee inaugurated by the minister were Okoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Grace Gekpe and the Managing Director of NFC, Chidia Maduekwe.
The Director Information and Communication of BPE, Dikko Mohammed, will serve as the Secretary of the committee.
Edited By: Mufutau Ojo)
UN at 75: Guterres urges sustenance of world peace
The United Nations officially marked its 75th anniversary on Monday with Secretary-General António Guterres appealing for preservation of the longest period in modern history without a military confrontation.
Addressing the mainly virtual event, Guterres urged the world’s most powerful nations to resist the temptation for unilateral actions and embrace dialogue in dispute resolution.
“The ideals of the United Nations: peace, justice, equality and dignity, are beacons to a better world.
“But the orgainsation we celebrate today emerged only after immense suffering.
“It took two world wars, millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust for world leaders to commit to international cooperation and the rule of law.
“That commitment produced results. A Third World War, which so many had feared — has been avoided.
“Never in modern history have we gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers.
“This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud, and which we must all strive to preserve,” he said.
Looking back over the last 75 years, the Secretary-General outlined other achievements of the UN to include peace treaties and peacekeeping, decolonisation, and setting human rights standards and the mechanisms to uphold them.
Others, according to him, are “triumph over apartheid” in South Africa, life-saving humanitarian aid for millions of victims of conflict and disaster, eradication of diseases and development of international law.
However, UN Chief reminded the world of existing global challenges, noting that there is still so much to be done.
“Climate calamity looms, biodiversity is collapsing, poverty is again rising and hatred is spreading, geopolitical tensions are escalating, nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert.
“Transformative technologies have opened up new opportunities but also exposed new threats.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the world’s fragilities,” he added.
Emphasising that the problems could only be well tackled through multilateralism and cooperation, Guterres said there was “surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions”.
“No one wants a world government, but we must work together to improve world governance,” he added.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi