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Ethiopia: GERD dam comes on stream but Sudan, Egypt aren’t smiling. Here’s why

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The $4.2bn (£3.8bn) mega dam, located in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, River Nile; Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), has generated electricity for the first time.

The massive hydropower plant on the Blue Nile, owned by Ethiopia – on it’s commissioning – triggered a decade-long discord with Sudan and Egypt.

Sudan and Egypt say the mega-dam will cause severe water shortages downstream.

The $4.2bn (£3.8bn) dam, located in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, has been a source of contention between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan since its construction started in 2011.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed officially inaugurated electricity production on Sunday from the mega-dam, saying the controversial multi-billion-dollar project “was built by Ethiopians but not only for Ethiopians, rather for all our African brothers and sisters to benefit from.

The move, Egypt condemned – believes is violating its obligations under the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

“The Ethiopian side has taken a further step in violating its obligations under the 2015 Declaration of Principles,” the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement published on its Facebook page on Feb. 20. Cairo believes the unilateral measure will disrupt the Blue Nile, despite not having a direct impact on Egyptian water interests.

On the other hand, Sudan rejected what it described as a “unilateral step” by Ethiopia to begin electricity production from the GERD.

“Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally begin operation of the GERD constitutes a violation to the Declaration of Principles signed by the three parties,” Sudan’s acting Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Daw Al-Bait Abdul-Rahman said in a statement.

“Before the move, the Ethiopian side should have provided the other parties with enough information, such as the volume of water expected to exit from behind the dam, to know if the Sudanese reservoirs would be able to absorb it to adopt the necessary precautions.”

Egypt, which has a rapidly growing population of more than 100 million, relies on the Nile for at least 90 percent of its freshwater.

Egypt – a predominantly desert, is most worried about the risk of drought conditions such as those that occurred in the late 1970s and early ’80s and has pushed for Ethiopia to fill the reservoir over a longer period if needed and guarantee minimum flows.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has called for the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations to mediate directly.

The African Union had in 2020 discussed developments pertaining to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

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Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants

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Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants tailored to job needs from European countries.

President Bazoum made the position in an interview with an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. on Friday.

The president’s argument is that the quota will address European countries’ needs for its labour market and could help resolve the problem of illegal migration and human trafficking.

“In France, Spain, and Italy you have many jobs in sectors of employment where Africans can work,” Bazoum said.

“These numbers need to be established, country by country, and then the consulates entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing them.”

Surveys of African migrants in or heading toward Europe reveal that the majority were either employed or in school at the time of their departure. Yet, they felt despair over their economic prospects.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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