Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ethiopia: Eastern Nile States Advised to Prepare Benefit Sharing Agreement

The Eastern Nile (EN) states, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, should, as stipulated in the joint program development, come up with a benefit sharing agreement that should entitle the riparian states to a lump sum payment for various downstream and upstream benefits, an Ethiopian scholar said on Monday.

Head of the College of Development Studies , Addis Ababa University, Tesfaye Tafesse, highlighted that the challenge appears not only in the identification of benefits but also in putting them in a realistic framework as agreed upon on multilateral basis.

"Efforts made to come up with the Eastern Nile Basin Benefit sharing Agreement without forgetting the cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) and water allocation issues," Dr Tesfaye said, urging that the two should go hand in hand and parallel to each other.

"The identification of bundle of benefits (water and non-water related 'basket of benefits') and the realization of the 'equitable sharing of benefits' to the Eastern Nile countries are the two points the Joint Multipurpose Projects and other ENTRO projects should consider," said Tesfaye "All EN countries should bear in mind that the perception of benefits (and their usefulness) will alter over time, and any agreement based on benefit-sharing scenarios will need to take account of this," the scholar said while speaking at Ethiopian Nile Basin Discourse Forum's national Information Sharing Workshop.

Tesfaye said developing a sound financial framework for TB water resources development should include, among others, methods for equitable sharing of the costs, the benefits and the risks and build financial mechanisms for joint ownership of assets." In the context of benefit sharing, Dr Tesfaye recommended, the power benefits in Ethiopia should be weighed against the bundle of downstream benefits in the Sudan in terms of flood control, availability of more water downstream that could be used for irrigation due to regulated release as well as watershed management.

A large dam with over-year storage on the Blue Nile is suggested to achieve the aforementioned benefits.

The same authors believe that a large multipurpose dam on the Blue Nile would meet the criteria for JMP investments, including the generation of multipurpose benefits to all the three EN countries in terms of hydropower, irrigation, flood control and regional cooperation.

Ethiopia stands to benefit in financial terms from the sale of large amounts of hydropower to downstream riparian countries; according to a 2008 study which also showed that Sudan would benefit in several ways, including flood control, improvements in seasonal navigation and reduction in sediment loads reaching Sudanese reservoirs.

It also said Egypt benefits from upstream storage by receiving alternative sources of reliable power and increased opportunities for trade, regional integration and cooperation