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A Communique of the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MOSHE) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Communique on Ethiopian Dam _ Trump _

Advisory Council of MOSHE
October 30, 2020

We, members of the Advisory Council, composed of academics, scholars and professionals in Ethiopia and the Diaspora, are outraged by United States President Donald J. Trump’s statement that called for the “blowing up” of the GERD and the moratorium on the flow of US financial support to Ethiopia. The statement by President Trump, during a teleconference with Heads of Governments of Israel and Sudan, in the company of the media on October 23, 2020,is in utter disregard for diplomatic norms which manifestly incites violence against a sovereign state which takes pride as a founding member of the United Nations.

We document some basic facts on the GERD here.

1. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation studied the initial project as far back as 1964. The GERD was and is a hydroelectric project that does not markedly reduce or in any way “stop” the flow of water to downstream countries. Contrary to the widespread misguided reports, the first stage of the filling did not reduce the flow of water to downstream countries. As a matter of fact, the dam has minimized massive flooding from the unusually heavy rainfall this year.

2. More than 85 percent of the Nile’s waters originate from the Ethiopian highlands. The project adheres to the two main international principles of “equitable water sharing” and “no significant harm”. This national project, which is now more than 75 percent complete, is fully financed by Ethiopians from all walks of life, including civil servants, peasants, workers, petty traders, men and women, the elderly, the youth and its Diaspora.

3. When the GERD becomes fully functional, it will supply electricity to some 65 million Ethiopians, spurs manufacturing and employment, prevents deforestation and environmental degradation, and provides affordable energy including to those in the neighboring countries. The project meets environmental standards and has received recognition from international experts which include those in the Nile Basin countries.

4. The U.S.A. was invited (to be) an observer to the negotiations, but, turned into a “deal maker”. The “deal” proposed in February-March 2020, which was stacked in favor of Egypt, violates Ethiopia’s sovereignty and adversely affects the future of its 115 million citizens. That “deal” has already been questioned by several members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and the African American community, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, one of the living icons of the Civil Rights movement. Negotiations are currently underway between the three Nile Basin countries of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan, mediated by the African Union under the chairmanship of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, also the current president of the Union.

5. Ethiopia and the United States have over 117 years of cordial relations. Ethiopia’s tricolors were a symbol of freedom, liberation, and anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles. Furthermore, Ethiopian and American soldiers died together during the Korean war, and deployed together in the Congo in the 1960s. Since the 9/11 attack on the United States, the two countries have been closely cooperating in the fight against terrorism and peace keeping missions in many countries. Any misstep in this age-old relation may risk dramatic consequences on the geopolitical landscape in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin in particular and the continent and the world as a whole.


1. Recalling the disturbing statements made by President Donald J. Trump on GERD noted above;

2. Recalling the President’s nescience that the Nile has stopped flowing into Egypt on the building of the GERD;

3. Recalling the President’s manifest incitement that Egypt could blow up the GERD and threatening “They have to do something. They should have stopped it long before it started.”;

4. Recalling the President’s lamentation that Ethiopia has broken the failed “deal” he had negotiated pronouncing it as “a big mistake”;

5. Recalling the arm-twisting of the Ethiopian negotiating team which resulted in its withdrawal from the negotiation where US was supposed to be an observer, with a restricted role to facilitate, but not to vote, propose a resolution or broker a deal;

6. Acknowledging the international law governing transboundary waters which permits Ethiopia’s sovereign rights to use its own resources, and noting Egypt’s failure to ratify the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework;

7. Acknowledging the ongoing African Union-led effort under the motto of “African Solutions for African Problems” to support the three parties of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan to find a negotiated solution;

8. Acknowledging the 117 yearlong Ethiopian- American cordial diplomatic relationship;

9. Acknowledging the generosity of the Governments and people of the United States;

10. Acknowledging Ethiopia’s strategic importance to the peace-seeking Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) regions and the rest of Africa and the world as a whole;

11. Recalling Ethiopia’s unwavering position on equitable use of water resources in the Nile Basin region and its principles of no significant harm to downstream countries;

12. Reminding that more than 85 percent of the Nile water originates in Ethiopia;

13. Reminding that the Nile and its tributaries amount to 70 percent of Ethiopia’s total water resources;

14. Acknowledging the anticipated benefits of the GERD for the Nile Basin countries in managing flooding, minimizing silting, allowing multiple harvesting annually, and exporting electricity, among others;

15. Acknowledging the fact that Egypt has alternative sources of water and lacks prudent management of its resources;

16. Recalling 65 million Ethiopians living in the dark where the major task of children and women has reduced to collecting and fetching firewood;

17. Recalling Ethiopia’s long, and fierce, history of independent nationhood, undaunted by foreign forces;

We, the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education:

1. Categorically condemn the statements made by President Trump as ill-informed and more so dangerous to the peace of the region and the world at large;

2. Demand that either President Trump or the next President of the United States withdraw the statement that incited war in the African continent and an invasion of a sovereign nation;

3. Request that the unjustified moratorium on financial assistance to Ethiopia be quickly lifted as the action only hurts the poor already traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic, civil conflict and natural calamities;

4. Urge that the sensitive and complex negotiation continues to be convened by South Africa, under the auspices of the African Union, as the country has requisite neutrality, extensive experience, robust institutional capacity, and rich diplomatic acumen;

5. Call upon academics, scholars, and professionals in particular and all peace-loving people in the United States and across the world to join hands in supporting a peaceful resolution to avert a potential Afro-Arab conflict that may be sparked by President Donald Trump’s statement.

Addis Ababa
30 October 2020

Dr. Tsedeke Abate, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Home Grown Vision, ETHIOPIA

Prof. Mengesha Admasu, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, University of Gondar, ETHIOPIA

Prof. Yemane Berhane, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Addis Ababa University, ETHIOPIA

Dr. Tewabech Bishaw, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, ETHIOPIA

Prof. Amare Desta, MOSHE Working Group Chair, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UNITED KINGDOM

Dr. Wendemagegn Enbiale, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Bahir Dar University, ETHIOPIA

Prof. Wondwossen Gebreyes, MOSHE Working Group Chair, Ohio State University, UNITED STATES

Ms. Bethlehem Gronneberg, MOSHE Working Group Chair, UNITED STATES

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari, MOSHE Working Group Chair, People to People, UNITED STATES

Prof. Minga Negash, MOSHE Working Group Chair, Metropolitan State University of Denver,

UNITED STATES and University of Witwatersrand, SOUTH AFRICA

Prof. Solomon Negash, MOSHE Working Group Chair, Kennesaw State University, UNITED STATES

Prof. Tarekegn Tadesse, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, ETHIOPIA

Asso. Prof. Wondwosen Tamrat, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, St. Mary’s University, ETHIOPIA

Mr. Yifokire Tefera, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Addis Ababa University, ETHIOPIA

Prof. Taye Tolemariam, MOSHE Working Group Co-Chair, Jimma University, ETHIOPIA

Dr. Teshome Yizengaw, MOSHE Working Group Chair, Indiana University, UNITED STATES

Prof. Damtew Teferra, MOSHE Chair of Chairs and Co-Chairs, University of Kwazulu-Natal, SOUTH AFRICA

*This statement reflects neither MOSHE’s position nor the institutions stated here.

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