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Russia, China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear Expansion

The warheads were originally configured to be delivered from one of several aircraft types then in service with the South African Air Force (SAAF),

Russia and China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear ExpansionOfficials in South Africa and across the African continent continue to explore new nuclear power generation projects, and the region provides an opportunity for other countries to export their advanced nuclear technologies.

The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in May said it wants a plan to procure as much as 2.5 GW of nuclear generation capacity within the next five years.

South Africa today has just two commercial reactors, both at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station north of Cape Town.1.

The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, which was commissioned in 1984 and is operated by South Africa state-owned utility Eskom, features two pressurized water reactors, each with 970 MW of generation capacity.

Koeberg (Figure 1) is the only nuclear power plant currently in commercial operation on the entire African continent, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said nearly a dozen other African nations have talked with the IAEA about formulating plans for nuclear power.

Bomb casings at South Africa’s abandoned Circle nuclear bomb production facility near Pretoria. These most likely would have accommodated a gun-type nuclear package for air delivery

The World Nuclear Association said at least seven sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia.

Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, is “currently working with more than 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and others; as well as with the following North African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” according to Ryan Collyer, acting CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, who corresponded with POWER.

Jacob Shapiro, the founder and chief strategist for Austin, Texas-based Perch Perspectives, told POWER that South Africa “will need outside investment” to support an expanded nuclear program, which is likely the case for any African nation. “Investment will come from the same suspects that bid on nuclear projects in South Africa before: Russia, China, France, South Korea, and possibly the United States.

Japan may throw its hat into the ring as well, but they have struggled to be competitive in more reliable markets than South Africa, like the UK and Turkey.”Shapiro continued: “It is hard for me to imagine Russia gaining much traction after [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa scrapped the previous deal with Rosatom in 2019. That said, domestic politics can change quickly in South Africa and maybe it will be most interested in not getting caught between the U.S. and China, making Russia, South Korea or France better alternatives.

This still ultimately comes down to whichever government thinks South Africa is most important to its strategic interests, and that’s clearly China.”Russia, for its part, said it has a “wide range of technologies to offer” African nations exploring nuclear power.

Collyer told POWER those technologies range “from ‘large’ light water reactors [pressurized water reactors or PWRs] with capacity over 1 GW to small modular reactors [SMRs]. We were first to deploy commercial fast neutron reactors and are likely to be first to deploy high temperature gas-cooled reactors.

For each country we come up with a solution tailored to the features of the regional electricity market, including the readiness of the distribution grid.”The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has said there are at least six potential options for financing new nuclear power plants in the country, with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe telling a parliamentary committee in mid-May he is open to considering innovative funding options in order to develop new nuclear capacity.

Support for new nuclear power plants in South Africa dimmed after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to resign as president in 2018, and officials had said the country could not afford to build additional plants. It also had been thought the economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would inhibit government-financed energy projects.However, Mantashe told the country’s lawmakers, “The nuclear build plan will go ahead and we will explore all options.” He said a contract could be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate, and transfer basis, and that means there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”Mantashe’s group, in a presentation to a parliamentary committee about its plans for the next five years, said, “The development of the roadmap for the 2,500-MW nuclear new-build program will be commencing soon.” Shapiro told POWER the most likely investor for that development is China. “China is South Africa’s most important trading partner, an important source of investment, and has been making inroads there for a while,” he said. “However, unlike the last time South Africa sought bids in 2016, the U.S. now views China as a strategic threat and I could see the U.S. government getting involved to push either an America alternative or an ‘anyone but China’ alternative. Think of what the U.S. is doing with Huawei—a similar tactic is possible, especially if President Trump wins again.”Though China may have an edge in trade with South Africa,

Russia is actively pursuing export of its nuclear technology across the continent, as it is doing around the globe. Rosatom has secured more than 30 reactor supply deals in recent years, and in 2019 the company said it had international projects worth $202.4 billion in its portfolio. The company also said it has 36 reactor construction projects outside of Russia at various implementation stages, and already has working agreements with Rwanda, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia. “As for South Africa, we have great respect for the path taken by the country in the development of the nuclear industry.

We are open to cooperation on the widest range, subject to a request from our South African colleagues,” said Collyer. “Despite the shortcomings of the grid infrastructure in Africa, the latest generation of tried and tested ‘large’ PWRs, which are already being built in series across the globe, are still the clear winners in most regions, this in terms of the cost of electricity compared to any other technology.

In Africa, we are able to offer our latest generation PWR-type reactors—the VVER-1200—which is state of the art compared to the previous generation reactors. It is 20% more powerful; the amount of personnel operating the reactor has decreased [by] between 30% and 40%; and the lifetime of the reactor has doubled to 60 years, with the possibility of lasting an additional 20 years.“Considering the energy needs and peculiarities of energy systems of some African countries, Rosatom may offer its new solution—SMR nuclear power plant [NPP]. Rosatom has extensive experience with small-scale reactors that we have been mastering over many years on nuclear icebreakers, making them as safe and efficient as our flagship large reactors. Our RITM series reactors are the most modern ones, and already have references, as they are installed on board icebreakers of a new class, the first of which is undergoing sea trials,” Collyer said.The NIASA group said financing options for nuclear power in South Africa include:

Government funding of the entire project, or government-backed loan guarantees, supported by money from state-owned companies.

South Africa gets 77% of its energy needs from coal right now,” Shapiro said. “If you look at the most recent South African Integrated Resource Plan [IRP], it’s clear that nuclear is a small part of a more general attempt to reduce reliance on coal and fossil fuels, and embrace solar, wind, and hydropower. South Africa substituting some nuclear so it can burn less coal is progress from an environmental perspective.”Mantashe, in a May 7 address to South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, said his agency is preparing its nuclear power plan as mandated by the country’s 2019 IRP. Mantashe said his department would consider all options for nuclear power, including projects designed around SMRs.

He also said the government is considering replacing the SAFARI-1 research reactor with a multi-purpose reactor. SAFARI-1, which was commissioned in 1965, is a 20-MW light water-cooled, beryllium reflected, pool-type research reactor, initially used for high-level nuclear physics research programs. The reactor is owned and operated by South African Nuclear Energy Corp. at the company’s facility in Pelindaba.“Small modular reactors make more sense for South Africa, especially considering they are just looking for 2.5 GW of power from nuclear,” Shapiro said. “That’s one of the reasons the U.S. or South Korea might actually have an ace in the hole here. NuScale Power in the U.S. and SMART Power Company in South Korea are both at the cutting edge of SMRs. I would be surprised if South Africa didn’t pursue SMRs considering the energy minister specifically said South Africa was looking to develop modular nuclear stations and cost is the primary concern for the South African government.

The bigger question to me is whether South Africa actually goes through with nuclear at all.

I am not convinced South Africa can absorb the cost even if it does go the SMR route. If South Africa does go forward, SMRs are the logical way to proceed.” Mantashe’s agency also is developing an oversight plan for a program to enable Koeberg’s two reactors, which generate about 5% of the country’s electricity, to continue operating until at least 2044.

NIASA has noted that SMRs could be a more cost-effective way for South Africa to achieve its nuclear power goal. “The small units are also quite flexible in terms of location,” the agency said in a recent presentation. “Instead of investing in huge transmission lines where they do not already exist, these units can be sited as close to the load centers as possible.

They can also be located inland as they typically require much reduced cooling water. In the rest of the continent where the transmission infrastructure is limited or the demand is currently limited, the deployment of the SMRs close to load centers such as cities and mines, becomes key. South Africa can become a hub of the nuclear supply chain worldwide, in much the same way as in the automotive and aerospace industries.”The group said that SMRs located in coastal areas, and using high-temperature reactors (HTRs), also could be used for water desalination. Such a design is part of a demonstration project in China, with a reactor known as the HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. The HTR-PM differs from currently deployed water-cooled designs; the HTR-PM is cooled by helium and can reach temperatures as high as 750C.Kejian Zhang, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in Vienna, Austria, in October 2019, said, “The HTGR demonstration project with fourth-generation technology has made steady progress, and this reactor will be capable of hydrolytic hydrogen production and high temperature process heat.

We have also recently completed the preliminary design of a pool-type, low-temperature heat reactor, the DHR-400, which may be used for district heating.”2. The Akademik Lomonosov, a first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant, was connected to the power grid in Russia in December 2019. The barge is named after a famous academician, Mikhail Lomonosov. Courtesy: RosatomCollyer said Rosatom would be ready to supply SMRs. “We have made a real breakthrough in the small modular reactor.

Last December, our first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov [Figure 2] was connected to the grid in Chukotka, the Russian Far East. Our next priority is an onshore SMR NPP to be built in Russia by 2027. Thus, our versatile flagship SMR design—RITM-200—of 50-MWe capacity will have three key applications: onshore SMR-based plants, floating NPPs, and new icebreakers, which we are currently building for the Northern Sea route. By doing so we’ll secure enough demand to manufacture SMRs in series, which would drive down costs and lead times.”—…Is There a Market for Small Modular Reactors?The nuclear industry has been expecting big things from small modular reactors (SMRs) for a long time, but… WEBINARSSponsored By GE DigitalPower And Utilities: Russia, China Drive Africa’s Plan for Nuclear ExpansionOfficials in South Africa and across the African continent continue to explore new nuclear power generation projects, and the region provides an opportunity for other countries to export their advanced nuclear technologies.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in May said it wants a plan to procure as much as 2.5 GW of nuclear generation capacity within the next five years.

South Africa today has just two commercial reactors, both at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station north of Cape Town.1. The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, which was commissioned in 1984 and is operated by South Africa state-owned utility Eskom, features two pressurized water reactors, each with 970 MW of generation capacity. Source: Creative Commons / Pipodesign Philipp P. EgliKoeberg (Figure 1) is the only nuclear power plant currently in commercial operation on the entire African continent, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said nearly a dozen other African nations have talked with the IAEA about formulating plans for nuclear power. The World Nuclear Association said at least seven sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia. Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, is “currently working with more than 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and others; as well as with the following North African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” according to Ryan Collyer, acting CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, who corresponded with POWER.Jacob Shapiro, the founder and chief strategist for Austin, Texas-based Perch Perspectives, told POWER that South Africa “will need outside investment” to support an expanded nuclear program, which is likely the case for any African nation. “Investment will come from the same suspects that bid on nuclear projects in South Africa before: Russia, China, France, South Korea, and possibly the United States.

Japan may throw its hat into the ring as well, but they have struggled to be competitive in more reliable markets than South Africa, like the UK and Turkey.”Shapiro continued: “It is hard for me to imagine Russia gaining much traction after [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa scrapped the previous deal with Rosatom in 2019. That said, domestic politics can change quickly in South Africa and maybe it will be most interested in not getting caught between the U.S. and China, making Russia, South Korea or France better alternatives.

This still ultimately comes down to whichever government thinks South Africa is most important to its strategic interests, and that’s clearly China.”Russia, for its part, said it has a “wide range of technologies to offer” African nations exploring nuclear power.

Collyer told POWER those technologies range “from ‘large’ light water reactors [pressurized water reactors or PWRs] with capacity over 1 GW to small modular reactors [SMRs].

We were first to deploy commercial fast neutron reactors and are likely to be first to deploy high temperature gas-cooled reactors. For each country we come up with a solution tailored to the features of the regional electricity market, including the readiness of the distribution grid.”The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has said there are at least six potential options for financing new nuclear power plants in the country, with Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe telling a parliamentary committee in mid-May he is open to considering innovative funding options in order to develop new nuclear capacity. Support for new nuclear power plants in South Africa dimmed after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to resign as president in 2018, and officials had said the country could not afford to build additional plants.

It also had been thought the economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would inhibit government-financed energy projects.However, Mantashe told the country’s lawmakers, “The nuclear build plan will go ahead and we will explore all options.” He said a contract could be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate, and transfer basis, and that means there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”Mantashe’s group, in a presentation to a parliamentary committee about its plans for the next five years, said, “The development of the roadmap for the 2,500-MW nuclear new-build program will be commencing soon.” Shapiro told POWER the most likely investor for that development is China. “China is South Africa’s most important trading partner, an important source of investment, and has been making inroads there for a while,” he said. “However, unlike the last time South Africa sought bids in 2016, the U.S. now views China as a strategic threat and I could see the U.S. government getting involved to push either an America alternative or an ‘anyone but China’ alternative. Think of what the U.S. is doing with Huawei—a similar tactic is possible, especially if President Trump wins again.”

Though China may have an edge in trade with South Africa, Russia is actively pursuing export of its nuclear technology across the continent, as it is doing around the globe.

Rosatom has secured more than 30 reactor supply deals in recent years, and in 2019 the company said it had international projects worth $202.4 billion in its portfolio.

The company also said it has 36 reactor construction projects outside of Russia at various implementation stages, and already has working agreements with Rwanda, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.“As for South Africa, we have great respect for the path taken by the country in the development of the nuclear industry.

We are open to cooperation on the widest range, subject to a request from our South African colleagues,” said Collyer. “Despite the shortcomings of the grid infrastructure in Africa, the latest generation of tried and tested ‘large’ PWRs, which are already being built in series across the globe, are still the clear winners in most regions, this in terms of the cost of electricity compared to any other technology. In Africa, we are able to offer our latest generation PWR-type reactors—the VVER-1200—which is state of the art compared to the previous generation reactors. It is 20% more powerful; the amount of personnel operating the reactor has decreased [by] between 30% and 40%; and the lifetime of the reactor has doubled to 60 years, with the possibility of lasting an additional 20 years.“Considering the energy needs and peculiarities of energy systems of some African countries, Rosatom may offer its new solution—SMR nuclear power plant [NPP]. Rosatom has extensive experience with small-scale reactors that we have been mastering over many years on nuclear icebreakers, making them as safe and efficient as our flagship large reactors. Our RITM series reactors are the most modern ones, and already have references, as they are installed on board icebreakers of a new class, the first of which is undergoing sea trials,” Collyer said.The NIASA group said financing options for nuclear power in South Africa include:■ Government funding of the entire project, or government-backed loan guarantees, supported by money from state-owned companies.■ An intergovernmental loan.■ Corporate financing.■ Financing by plant vendors.■ A special investment vehicle to finance the project.■ A “build, own, operate” structure.The NIASA group said South Africa previously has used the special investment vehicle model to build natural gas-fired power plants. “South Africa gets 77% of its energy needs from coal right now,” Shapiro said. “If you look at the most recent South African Integrated Resource Plan [IRP], it’s clear that nuclear is a small part of a more general attempt to reduce reliance on coal and fossil fuels, and embrace solar, wind, and hydropower. South Africa substituting some nuclear so it can burn less coal is progress from an environmental perspective.”Mantashe, in a May 7 address to South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, said his agency is preparing its nuclear power plan as mandated by the country’s 2019 IRP. Mantashe said his department would consider all options for nuclear power, including projects designed around SMRs. He also said the government is considering replacing the SAFARI-1 research reactor with a multi-purpose reactor. SAFARI-1, which was commissioned in 1965, is a 20-MW light water-cooled, beryllium reflected, pool-type research reactor, initially used for high-level nuclear physics research programs. The reactor is owned and operated by South African Nuclear Energy Corp. at the company’s facility in Pelindaba.“Small modular reactors make more sense for South Africa, especially considering they are just looking for 2.5 GW of power from nuclear,” Shapiro said. “That’s one of the reasons the U.S. or South Korea might actually have an ace in the hole here. NuScale Power in the U.S. and SMART Power Company in South Korea are both at the cutting edge of SMRs. I would be surprised if South Africa didn’t pursue SMRs considering the energy minister specifically said South Africa was looking to develop modular nuclear stations and cost is the primary concern for the South African government. The bigger question to me is whether South Africa actually goes through with nuclear at all. I am not convinced South Africa can absorb the cost even if it does go the SMR route. If South Africa does go forward, SMRs are the logical way to proceed.” Mantashe’s agency also is developing an oversight plan for a program to enable Koeberg’s two reactors, which generate about 5% of the country’s electricity, to continue operating until at least 2044.NIASA has noted that SMRs could be a more cost-effective way for South Africa to achieve its nuclear power goal. “The small units are also quite flexible in terms of location,” the agency said in a recent presentation. “Instead of investing in huge transmission lines where they do not already exist, these units can be sited as close to the load centers as possible. They can also be located inland as they typically require much reduced cooling water.

In the rest of the continent where the transmission infrastructure is limited or the demand is currently limited, the deployment of the SMRs close to load centers such as cities and mines, becomes key.

South Africa can become a hub of the nuclear supply chain worldwide, in much the same way as in the automotive and aerospace industries.”The group said that SMRs located in coastal areas, and using high-temperature reactors (HTRs), also could be used for water desalination.

Such a design is part of a demonstration project in China, with a reactor known as the HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. The HTR-PM differs from currently deployed water-cooled designs; the HTR-PM is cooled by helium and can reach temperatures as high as 750C.Kejian Zhang, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), speaking at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in Vienna, Austria, in October 2019, said, “The HTGR demonstration project with fourth-generation technology has made steady progress, and this reactor will be capable of hydrolytic hydrogen production and high temperature process heat.

We have also recently completed the preliminary design of a pool-type, low-temperature heat reactor, the DHR-400, which may be used for district heating.”2.

The Akademik Lomonosov, a first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant, was connected to the power grid in Russia in December 2019.

The barge is named after a famous academician, Mikhail Lomonosov. Courtesy: RosatomCollyer said Rosatom would be ready to supply SMRs. “We have made a real breakthrough in the small modular reactor.

Last December, our first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov [Figure 2] was connected to the grid in Chukotka, the Russian Far East.

Our next priority is an onshore SMR NPP to be built in Russia by 2027. Thus, our versatile flagship SMR design—RITM-200—of 50-MWe capacity will have three key applications: onshore SMR-based plants, floating NPPs, and new icebreakers, which we are currently building for the Northern Sea route.

By doing so we’ll secure enough demand to manufacture SMRs in series, which would drive down costs and lead times.”—

Afrika-times.com

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The combination of external actors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn. Dawit W. Giorgis, a visiting scholar at the African Studies Centre at Boston University.

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The Horn of Africa is witnessing far-reaching changes in its external security relations. It is simultaneously experiencing an increase in the build-up of foreign military forces – on land and at sea – and a broadening of the security agendas pursued by these external actors.

The combination of these factors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. Though Egypt and Yemen are not in the Greater Horn, they are however part of the security complex of the Red Sea arena. It is known as the “choke point,” because much of the world’s commerce goes through this maritime route. At one point, when Somali pirates ruled the sea, the area was identified as the most dangerous naval zone in the world, notoriety now claimed by the Gulf of Guinea.

Those who control the Horn of Africa control a significant chunk of the world’s economies. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn.

This situation would have inspired or forced the countries of the Horn to be more united and have common strategic and security policies. Each of these forces has a stake in the development of events in the Horn and an agenda that puts their interests at the forefront.However, there are notable rivalries between the countries of the Horn of Africa, which has not enabled the forging of the necessary harmony in their relationships.

Eritrea and Djibouti have not put their border conflict of 2007 behind them. However, they agreed to normalize their relationship two years ago, although Djibouti still considers Eritrea an enemy, considering a recent statement in relations to the prosecution of a pilot that allegedly tried to run away to an “enemy” territory.But a conference call between the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African countries on March 30, 2020, was made to forge a regional plan to combat the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Four presidents from Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti were joined by the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Sudan and the first vice-president of South Sudan. Eritrea did not participate, because its membership has not yet been regularized since it left IGAD in 2007.

This is while Kenya-Somalia relations have escalated in the last few years. It stems from the security concern related to the terror group Al-Shabaab and the maritime border dispute between the two states.

The terror group has been continuously launching attacks across the border at Kenyan military outposts and against civilians in the area.The maritime boundary dispute between Nairobi and Mogadishu further complicates the relationship between the two. Somalia instituted proceedings against Kenya before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean, on August 28, 2014. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

The case is still pending.Taking the matter further, Kenya has started negotiating the withdrawal of its forces the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by 2021, making Ethiopia carry the bulk of troop contributions of the five countries that will remain.

These are bad signals of souring relationships, which can contribute to the overall destabilization of the fragile region.Neither are Ethiopia and Sudan on the best of terms. The borders between the two countries are the scene of occasional fighting, with recent skirmishes having turned deadly. It is unnecessary and preventable incidents that only add to the burden of stress the two countries have on their very sensitive and fragile relationship.“It is not clear exactly what triggered a flare-up of this long-standing border dispute,” stated the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Sources suggest that Sudanese security forces may have responded to incursions by Ethiopian troops.”Sudan is in the unique position of being a member of the Arab League, which makes it close to Egypt, but a generally close ally of Ethiopia as well. It has to play high stakes diplomacy not to be seen as siding with either.

Despite enormous pressure from Egypt and the United States, Sudan has held its ground. The bold and calculated decision manifested this in voting against other members of the Arab League on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).Sudan expressed “reservations” that the resolution does not serve its interests and might lead to confrontations between the Arab League countries and Ethiopia. This support of Sudan should not be taken for granted though. Last week, Sudan called for the United Nations Security Council`s intervention regarding Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Dam.“While acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources, Sudan has stressed the need for consultation and cooperation among the three countries to avoid the harm lower stream countries could suffer as a result of Ethiopia’s activities,” read Sudan’s memorandum to the Security Council.Concerning the GERD, Sudan highlighted the benefits and threats that could follow the construction. It acknowledged the benefits the Dam could have in helping manage periodic flooding and in raising Sudan’s capacity to generate electric power.“On the other hand, Sudan claimed that the construction of the Dam could change the flow line of the river and that it could affect Sudanese citizens negatively if the design, construction and filling works are not followed daily and closely.”This should be of great concern to Ethiopia, especially considering that a new regional organization with suspect motives – Council of Arab and African States Bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (CAASBRSGA) – has already been established on January 6, 2020. Although Egypt first initiated the idea, it was later taken over by Saudi Arabia.Its members are the coastal states of the Red Sea, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen (the internationally recognized government), Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.

The stated goals of this new organization are to improve cooperation and coordination among the members in matters related to politics, economy, culture, the environment and security. The Council is an unnecessary organization and one loaded with an Arab and Egyptian agenda. The Arab League is installing its subsidiary branch closer to home.“One of the most important issues is the one of membership. Currently, the criteria to be a member of the Council are to be a Red Sea coastal state.

This is the criterion defended by Egypt,” wrote the Middle Eastern business and financial news outlet MENAFN. “This position seeks to keep Ethiopia outside of Red Sea affairs, a position not shared by many of the members, who believe that despite its lack of access to the sea, Addis Ababa is a key player in Red Sea affairs. The reason for this absence is the litigation that Egypt and Ethiopia maintain over the construction of the Renaissance Dam in the Nile.”The stated goals of the Council include matters related to the Nile, an issue vital for Ethiopia. The strategy of Egypt and its allies is to choke Ethiopia through myriad projects. Ethiopia must vigorously fight such moves, but it does not seem that the Ethiopian government is aware of the dangers. At the same time, it flirts with the very countries that are active partners on the other side of the debate.

There has been a flurry of activities between South Sudan and Egypt as well since the crisis between Ethiopia and Egypt intensified over the GERD. Some of these activities are suspicious.

South Sudan had submitted its application in 2018, for a second time, to join the Arab League. There have also been diplomatic moves led by Egypt within the Arab League emphasizing the importance of South Sudan joining the organization, given Juba’s strategic geographical position serving as the Arab gateway to Africa.

With steadily and warmer relations with Ethiopia’s new neighbor, South Sudanese President Silva Kiir and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi have exchanged visits followed by several others at ministerial levels.Bringing South Sudan into the Arab League completes the strangulation of Ethiopia by Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

Seen together with the Council on The Red Sea Coast, the threats directed at Ethiopia are real and severe.This is the result of the failure of Ethiopia`s diplomacy.

Its fractured unity and volatile internal security situation have resulted in establishing a fertile ground for Egypt and other extremist and hostile forces to recruit people and spread propaganda that will further destabilize the country.Ethiopian diplomacy suffered a big blow when the 23 Arab League members, except Sudan, supported the draft resolution prepared by Egypt.

This must have been a clear sign that there was little effort from Ethiopia’s side.“The draft agreement proposed by the United States and the World Bank is fair and serves the interests of the three countries,” affirmed The Arab League.Somalia and Djibouti, Ethiopia’s “close allies,” voted for it. Eritrea, an observer, said nothing.

Although its president, Isaias Afwerki, has come out as an elder statesman and mentor of Ethiopia`s Prime Minister, we have yet to see him as “a friend in need, a friend indeed.”This diplomatic spat is occurring in a region that should otherwise be banding together to address challenges that affect every member.

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned East African countries about the outbreak of the desert locust, which has already placed around 20 million people in acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Ethiopia and the region are facing three-pronged attacks: pandemics, possible famine and regional and internal security challenges. A vital organ in such a time would have been IGAD, which until 1996 was preceded by the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought & Development (IGADD) was initiated in the mid-1980s.This was after Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda took action through the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region in 1983 and 1984.

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Djibouti in January 1986 to sign the agreement, which officially launched IGADD with its headquarters in Djibouti. Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining its independence in 1993.

Then the focus was drought and food security.The recurring and severe droughts and other natural disasters in the decade beginning 1974 caused widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the Eastern Africa region.

Although individual countries made substantial efforts to cope with the situation and received generous support from the international community, the magnitude and extent of the problem argued strongly for a regional approach to supplement national efforts.IGAD has never solved any political crisis. But it serves as a forum where leaders can meet and discuss their shared concerns.

However, IGAD can only be what its members want it to be. It can be an excellent tool if external agendas do not subvert it.

Members must first be committed to peaceful resolution through bilateral negotiations.

Creating other layers of organizations for the Horn will not help achieve any of the development, security and cooperation goals, but merely makes IGAD redundant. The regional body must be supported and reinforced to be a relevant organization. The spirit of cooperation needed here is one that President Isaias, Somalia’s Mohamed Farmajo Abdullahi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) showed when they agreed on a joint plan of action for this year after the third edition of a tripartite summit in Asmara. This was in February 2020.

The alliance also adopted a new Joint Plan of Action for 2020.The plan focuses “on two main and intertwined objectives of consolidating peace, stability and security, as well as promoting economic and social development,” as Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea`s Information Minister, explained.“They also agreed to bolster efforts for effective regional cooperation.”On the security front, the leaders formulated a strategy to combat common threats, such as terrorism, arms and human trafficking, and drug smuggling. These efforts are leading “to some sort of Horn of Africa coalition,” even a “Cushitic Alliance,” according to the East African newspaper.Such an alliance will overlap with the mandate of IGAD.

It remains ambiguous what is in the minds of these leaders. But to an outsider, this looks like more of a problem than a solution.How can the three countries, in exclusion of Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya, forge an alliance that can bring peace to the region?Beyond the long-term ambition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to control the Horn of Africa, the immediate goal of Egypt is to secure its interest on the Nile. Many Ethiopians are expressing their anger and showing patriotism through a rhetoric of war.

War in this politically charged, highly militarized strategic region would be destructive beyond our imagination.

If anyone “wins,” it will only be at enormous cost. Even that will be a preparation for the next round of war.The case of Egypt needs wisdom and patience.

War should be the ultimate exercise to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country. Heroes are those who prevent war and not make war.

There is an attempt to resuscitate discussions between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt, but tripartite talks should not be the preferred way for Ethiopia. This case is about the Nile and the rights of the Nile Basin countries. Sudan is not a reliable partner in this case for Ethiopia.

The issue is best served if brought before the Nile Basin countries and not a tripartite meeting where the odds do not favor Ethiopia.The only viable option for Ethiopia and Egypt is to bring back their case to Africa, call an emergency meeting of the heads of state of the Nile Basin countries and continue the dialogue and, if necessary, bring it to the level of the African Heads of State.

But before this can be done, the Ethiopian government has to do the legwork by approaching each of the Nile Basin countries and presenting its case and a possible solution that will serve the interests of both Egypt and Ethiopia. These discussions should be led by knowledgeable people that understand the intricacy of the problem at hand.

In the meantime, unilateral actions on both sides should be avoided as much as possible.The foundation for stability in the Horn begins with bilateral efforts to solve their differences in the face of mounting political, security and pandemic crisis. It is not patriotism not to compromise but is expressed best when the crisis between countries are solved through bilateral negotiations, including compromise.Give and take is the essence of diplomacy. But leaders need to know what to give and what to take. This requires a grasp on history and debate.

The building blocks for sustainable peace in the region begin with a capacity of each leader to discern the truth and not to mistake information as knowledge.

For the latter, leaders have people who have a sense of history and can see the big picture through the lenses of current affairs.The fact that the Horn of Africa is the most militarized region on earth is not a coincidence. Let us encourage our leaders to take stock of the situation on the area and trek carefully in this treacherous minefield: what the Horn has become.

Author Publisher: @shakiressa