Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Egypt/Ethiopia: leaders seek lasting solutions over Nile dam saga

07.12.2018
There is a common saying that every situation has advantages as well as disadvantages. This phenomenon as well applies to change. When growth comes, there is always a side that enjoys, and a side that frowns at it. This condition explains the flare-up among states around the Nile basin including Egypt and Ethiopia over the yet to be built Ethiopia’s ‘’Grand Renaissance Dam’’ (GERD). However, leaders are en-route in search of a right and durable solution the disputes.

Since Ethiopia’s premier Abiy Ahmed took leadership, advocating for reforms and seeking to build a solid and peaceful environment with his neighbours remains his major objective. The latest of such a move is to find a remedy to the dispute putting Ethiopia and Egypt at loggerheads. This problem emanated from Ethiopia’s move to construct a giant tank on the ‘’Blue Nile River’’, a venture that hopes to boost the energy potentials of the country and upgrade its position in the world. However, Egypt; a North African nation that heavily relies on the river Nile for irrigation and other aspects strongly stands against the construction of the huge Dam that stands to be one of Africa’s influential hydroelectric facility if realized.

On November 18th this year, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly revealed that he is expected to meet his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed in the weeks ahead for constructive discussions concerning the Blue Nile dam. Abiy and Madbouly hope to brainstorm on the points that are yet to be agreed on by respective stakeholders, as far as the GERD project is concerned. PM Abiy recently held series of talks with Egyptian head of State Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regarding the Nile water. The Ethiopian PM has vowed to make sure Cairo doesn’t lose its privileges and rights to the natural resource.

GRAND ETHIOPIA’S RENAISSANCE DAM

The Grand Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam –GERD represents one of the country’s major developmental projects that seek to uplift the energy level of the country, through the construction of a reservoir on the Nile River, which serves as a good natural resource for Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. The foundation stone was laid in 2011 by past Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi (of blessed Memory). Construction works have not stopped, despite persistent squabbles between Ethiopia and Egypt. Decision makers from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have been frequently meeting with aim to finding a compromising solution to the issue at stake. Dating back to 2017, the over $4 billion GERD project was already at 60% into construction, though its completion remains problematic due to the failure of the trio (Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia) to reach a consensus. Technical work on the Dam was expected to end by 2020. Nonetheless, that seems to be far from a reality. If constructed, the hydroelectric dam could take five to fifteen years (5-15) to fill. It is worth recalling that the Ethiopian government is one of the major powers funding the GERD. Part of the funding comes from private entities.

WHY CAIRO FEELS UNSECURED OVER THE GERD PROJECT

Since the GERD or the then Millennium project was given a green in 2011, Egypt became much unsecured and felt threatened by the dam. The North African Nation fears that Ethiopia’s construction of a reservoir on the Blue Nile River would deprive her access to the Nile water. Being a semi arid country, Cairo relies heavily on water from the Nile Basin for both domestic and commercial purposes.

  • It enables farming through irrigation (There is little rainfall that favour agriculture)
  • A source of drinkable water to millions of Egyptians. Etc.

In a nutshell, construction of the anticipated 5 billion US dollar dam project remains ongoing, while negotiations are underway to find a compromising solution and to put an end to the row between Addis Ababa and Cairo over the Blue Nile River.

It is worth noting that Khartoum in 2013 withdrew from the quarrels asserting that the construction of GERD on the Blue Nile River poses no threat to the country. Notwithstanding, Khartoum authorities have been actively involved in the constructive talks aimed at resolving the tension between Ethiopia and Egypt.

AFRIC Editorial Article.

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