Egypt and Ethiopia reach deal on Nile ‘mega dam’ that brought threats of war

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Both countries have issued threats of war ever since Ethiopia announced plans to build the dam in 2011 CREDIT: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP

Egypt and Ethiopia have struck a preliminary deal to end a row over the construction of a giant dam on the Nile, potentially averting a war between two of Africa’s biggest military powers.

Following talks in Washington brokered by the US government, Egypt agreed in principle to drop its opposition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam after receiving assurances that its water supply would not be threatened.

The breakthrough follows years of recrimination, with both countries periodically resorting to threats of war ever since Ethiopia announced plans to build the dam in 2011.

With 95 percent of its population living in the Nile Valley, Egypt has always been acutely sensitive about the flow of a river on which it has depended for its very existence since the dawn of civilisation 5,000 years ago. The world’s longest river is the source of nine-tenths of Egypt’s fresh water.

Arguing that it was granted ultimate control of the Nile under safeguards implemented by Britain in 1929, Egypt says the Renaissance Dam — which will be the world seventh largest on completion — could cause vital downstream reservoirs to dry up.

Ethiopia, in whose highlands the Blue Nile rises before meeting the White Nile in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, argues that the dam will transform the lives of its 110m people, providing many of them with electricity for the first time and allowing the country to industrialise.

Hopes for a resolution to the crisis were raised last year after Ethiopia, which had previously resisted international mediation, agreed to US involvement after Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, made a personal appeal to Donald Trump, his US counterpart.

Mr Trump instructed the US treasury department to work with the World Bank to find a solution.

Following talks in Washington, officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to allow the dam, which has largely been completed, to be filled in stages every July and August, the Ethiopian rainy season, so long as the impact on downstream reservoirs is monitored.

“The subsequent stages of filling will be done according to a mechanism to be agreed,” the US treasury department said in a statement.

A final deal could be signed at the end of the month, although analysts warn that differences between Egypt and Ethiopia remain, particularly over how long it should take to fill the dam’s reservoir, which will be the size of Buckinghamshire.

Sudan has sided with Ethiopia in the row, believing the dam will help regulate the flow of the Blue Nile and reduce downstream flooding.

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4 Responses to Egypt and Ethiopia reach deal on Nile ‘mega dam’ that brought threats of war

  1. Excellent news!!!! What a respite!!!! Kudos to the president and those who participated in the negotiations. I see this as a new chapter. Now all three countries should switch gears to cooperation where there will be rewarding commerce and transfer of skills. The issues with the use of this river have long been the source of hostile relationship between these fraternal people. Now runaway emotion needs to be cast aside and this agreement should be seen as the beginning of a brand new day!!!

    This dispute was heading into a dangerous outcome for all three countries. Now the people of the riparian country can breathe easy and look forward to a new beginning of rewarding cooperation in commerce and other regional matters. Hey bigots!!!! Balcony in Asmara has been slammed shut on your faces since 2018 and now el-Sisi will be doing the same on you also. All will be left for you is to crawl back to the woodwork you came from and die!!!! Take you sick mind along with you. Out of sight!!! Beat it!!! Dégage!!!!!

    Thank you Good Ole USA!!!!!

    Ittu aba farda
    January 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm
    Reply

  2. wAT A STUPID ASSURANCES DID ETHIOPIA GIVE? that eGYPT’S water supply would not be threatened.? WHAT DOES “THREATHEN” MEAN? iS eGYPt TO BOMBARD THE DAM IF HER SUPPLY IS THREATHNED EVEN IF NOT REDUCED? HERE IS NO WAY THE dAM WILL FUNCTION WITHOUT REDUCING EGYPT,S SHARE OF THE WATER. sILLY FOR ETHIOPIA TO AGREE ON THIS POINT.

    wEHA ANFARI
    January 16, 2020 at 5:03 pm
    Reply

  3. EGYPT NEGOTIATED OUT OF FEAR, BUT DID NOT FEAR TO NEGOTIATE. A SMILE COULD BE IN THE OFFING.

    Meimatungu
    January 17, 2020 at 6:58 am
    Reply

  4. I’m sure these patriot countrymen will not compromise the national interests of the old country. Stubborn stance on a winner takes all behavior will never benefit anyone of the three stakeholders. There must be thresholds where all three of them can compromise on. They can battle on it but it would be utter foolish to go to war for it. We should remember that Egypt knows very well that if war breaks because of this dam it will lose it all. Then all options will be on the table on el-Sisi’s table. Such scenario will cause our old country to lose diplomatically on global basis. It may end up being isolated. And that won’t be funny. I don’t want even begin to imagine what the situation in the old country will look like. Bigots will be able to finish the job they have started. Swaths of the country will be carved out to be fiefdoms of these hate mongers and smart alecks. Shrubs and overgrowths will be cleared so fresh tools of destruction will arrive daily from Al-Qahirah. The demonic Wahhabis will now have open doors in the east, southeast and northeast. I just don’t want to think about such scenario. I wish we should step back and ponder about the issues from all angles. We should refrain from reacting with raw emotion. It is easy to down play what these patriot countrymen accomplished from our comfy homes here in the West. We don’t have bigots breathing their dragon breath on our shoulders every minute of the day. Those glorious people who produced us all want someone to help them or show them the ways in which they can bring the dough home in peace. They are sick and tired of conflicts triggered by internal miscreants and they don’t want a double down by external forces. That Amhara parent is crying his/her eyes out because her only son was bludgeoned to death in his college campus for only reason he is an Amhara. That Oromo parent has been wailing after losing his son in a college front yard just because being an Oromo has made him a mortal enemy. That parent from Tigray has been denied a day in court for his son who was hacked to death and insult to injury he is being told he is a ‘woyane’. That Somali spouse has been wailing from dawn to dusk for the husband/father who was savagely stoned/hacked to death because being a Somali had made him a deadly enemy that given day. The same goes to Gamo, Guji. Shangul and all others. They are all very tired of conflicts.

    I say kudos to these very capable patriots Obbo Gedu bin Andargachew and Obbo Dr. Seleshi bin Bekele for what they accomplished during the negotiations.

    Ittu Aba Farda
    January 17, 2020 at 8:55 pm
    Reply

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