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Updated Mar 20, 2020

Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs, Sameh Shoukry, has been extremely busy trying to bolster diplomatic support for Egypt during negotiations over Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the Nile River. Egypt is worried that Ethiopia’s fill-rate for the massive reservoir would lower levels of the Nile River downstream, which Egypt depends on for its own energy production and agricultural output. In the past two weeks, Shoukry has traveled to fourteen African and two European countries, and has sent a delegation to a number of other North African countries.

The purpose of this packed travel itinerary is to carry a consistent message from Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: a call for the international community to back Egypt’s stance requiring Ethiopia to sign the comprehensive agreement to fill and operate the GERD. The agreement was reached under the mediation of the United States and the World Bank in a series of meetings held between November 2019 and February 2020. Ethiopia maintains that the Washington agreement overly favors Egypt, whereas Egypt has issued strong warnings and promises of repercussions should Ethiopia begin filling the GERD without signing the agreement.

 

In this file photo taken on October 22, 2019 boats are pictured along the riverbank and off the water of the Nile river delta's Damietta branch near the estuary into the Mediterranean sea, in the town of Ezbel al-Borg in Egypt's northern Governorate of Damietta, some 265 kilometres north of the Egyptian capital. The Nile, Egypt's lifeline since Pharaonic days, faces massive strain from pollution, over-use and climate change -- and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.
Boats are pictured along the riverbank and off the water of the Nile delta's Damietta branch, in the town of Ezbel al-Borg, in Egypt's northern Governorate of Damietta, some 265 kilometres north of the Egyptian capital. The Nile, Egypt's lifeline since Pharaonic days, faces massive strain from pollution, over-use and climate change -- and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.

 

Why It Matters

Historically, the Nile River has been one of the most significant rivers in human civilization. Countless wars have been fought to secure access to and control of the river, which functions as both a transportation route for trade and military purposes, and as the major source of water for the region’s agricultural sector. As climate change escalates, water becomes scarcer, which could fuel conflicts. Reaching an agreement over the GERD is crucial for establishing an international legal and diplomatic precedent for water resource management. In the worst-case scenario, if Ethiopia and Egypt were to go to war, the devastation for East Africa and the Horn of Africa would be incalculable.

 

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/03/egypt-international-support-ethiopia-nile-dam-dispute.html

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