News / Africa

Nile Talks Highlight Ethiopian, Egyptian Split

FILE - Water gushes out from pipes by the construction of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, some 40 kilometers from Ethiopia's border with Sudan.
FILE - Water gushes out from pipes by the construction of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, some 40 kilometers from Ethiopia's border with Sudan.
Elizabeth Arrott
Water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are meeting in Khartoum to try to resolve differences over Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam. Egyptian officials remain worried the Nile project threatens the nation's security.

Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials hope to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam, which has angered Egyptian officials and brought forth repeated objections to the project.

This second round of tripartite talks follows a shift in allegiances among the three countries. Sudan has historically sided with Egypt in claiming the lion's share of the river's water and veto rights over upstream developments. But last week, Khartoum lent its support to Ethiopia's drive to complete construction.

Ethiopian officials have tried to bring Sudan and others on board by offering access to future electricity generated by the dam. They argue the project should be seen as a pan-African effort.

Yet Egypt remains worried. Ethiopia began diverting water earlier this year to fill the massive reservoir behind the dam, a multi-year effort that will lower water levels reaching Egypt.

African Studies and Water Issues analyst Ayman Abd El Wahab of al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo said Egypt needs compensation. He argued that Ethiopia has crossed the line from usurping Egypt's historic rights to the Nile to threatening national security.  He pointed out that Egypt is alone among the Nile Basin countries to rely almost exclusively on the Nile for its water supply.

The issue has flared for decades, and has raised talk of “water wars.”

Yet el Wahab agrees with many experts that there is enough water to go around, if the resource is properly handled and the nations along the Nile's banks can work together.

Some Egyptian officials had sought a six-month delay in dam construction so the three countries can implement recommendations by an international group of water experts. Ethiopia is eager to move ahead on what is set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric dam, insisting the project will be a benefit to all.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: HBA from: Addis
December 10, 2013 1:23 AM
The dam is only to generate electricity and flows as usual. The experts Egypt itself nominated has guaranteed the dam would not bring any significant harm to Egypt. And the Ethiopian Gov’t is still willing to make Egypt sure on the projects implementations. Why such worry for Egypt? Is it the prospect of the growth of Ethiopia? Do they fear that one day Ethiopia could ask a charge for the water they receive from Ethiopia? Ethiopia should think deep to calm them down.

by: aynalem from: bahir dar
December 10, 2013 12:36 AM
i don't understand the Egyptian ways of thinking even the so called expert talks nonsense

by: Dawd Ebsa from: Arkansas, USA
December 09, 2013 7:58 PM
Hahaha compensation for who? Egypt should take care on her way of thinking. They have to compensate Ethiopia for the nile river quality and safe. Otherwise when Ethiopia more developed they may have more industrial waste with nile water.

by: Ras Mitat from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
December 09, 2013 7:53 PM
Egypt, suffering from power shortages, is just playing hardball for discount electricity from Grand Renaissance Dam. UN water experts already reported dam will not affect Egypt.

Egypt should compensate Ethiopia for wasting water on OVER 30 GOLF COURSES in desert!

by: Gixy Melesse from: Los Angeles
December 09, 2013 6:21 PM
"African Studies and Water Issues analyst Ayman Abd El Wahab of al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo said Egypt needs compensation". what compensation? Some people has no shame at all.
In Response

by: LM from: Norfolk USA
December 09, 2013 11:58 PM
Isn't it amazing how Egypt is still holding on to it's "historic rights"? And yet everyone is supposed to believe they are at the negotiating table for reasons of cooperation and fairness. Until Egypt rejects the 1929 and 1959 colonial-era agreements, they can't be trusted.

by: tes from: london
December 09, 2013 5:39 PM
do the egyptian even know we can divert the water totally from going to sudan even a drop of water we can make it circulating around ethiopia the join the omo river egyptian i think they got stone in thire head

by: Kwasi Oteng. from: Accra, Ghana.
December 09, 2013 3:31 PM
I advise the three states to be patient and cautious,with the issue before them, as water is a precious thing nobody on this earth, will look on for his/her only source of water to be taken away. For that matter, I plead with those involved in the negociations not to act in a way that'll be disatisfactory to any side .Already tension exists, between the states, it can spark conflict, if fairness doesn't come into play.
In Response

by: alex from: London Uk
December 10, 2013 4:52 PM
No worries for war what the Egyptian leadership and their media is mongering. I am very confident that the Ethiopian government and people will not allow them tot meddle around our rights. It is laughable when the Egyptian negotiators have come up with proposals too determine the size of the dam and the amount of power we need to generate and restrict us for local consumption only. Is this not total blindness and interference on our national interest and an attempt to dedicate us from Cairo?
In Response

by: dorion
December 10, 2013 11:33 AM
Well, Kwasi, no one is going to listen to your advise, rest assured. But you can also rest assured that there is not going to be war, not in the foreseeable future.

But when you said "nobody on this earth, will look on for his/her only source of water to be taken away" you don't appear as an individual who is "pleading" for "negotiations" (I hope that is what you meant by "negociations")

See, Egypt has plenty of water. It is just they are addicted to easy water. They can desalinate The Mediterranean and The Red Sea waters, they can exploit their aquifers, they can even recycle and use efficiently the Nile water. No, they don't want to do neither of the above. They simply resort to military threats each time the issue of Nile waters is contested.

They over estimate their own capabilities and resources. Even with American military aid, Egypt has little chance of staging a war thousands of miles away from home. Even then, one country alone, Ethiopia, proved it could more than match what ever Egypt could throw at her. Refer to History.

Even their experts are tactless and irresponsible in their statements. He said with out even a hint of shame or modesty, Ethiopia "crossed line". What line and who draw it?. Considering the poor mastery of the English language by most “Egyptian experts” and Journalists alike, the Expert probably meant to say something else. Who knows?

by: David Shiferaw from: Toronto, Canada
December 09, 2013 1:23 PM
Absolutely ludicrous to hear the Egyptians continue with their games. If the nile waters is of no benefit to the riparian states, the quality of the waters will be totally harmed and so too will be Egypt's own underground aquifers which are fed by these water. The costs of treating sewage, and disposing of mineral and agricultural waste should perhaps be enough of a bargaining chip to bring the Egyptian side back to their senses. Otherwise, we truly will all sink!

by: Damo from: Addis Ababa
December 09, 2013 1:22 PM
Stopping the construction is a non starter. I do not understand why Egypt brings up obviously unacceptable points in this process of implementing the technical recommendations. Only genuine and positive cooperation will serve all.
In Response

by: LM from: Norfolk USA
December 10, 2013 12:04 AM
Egypt doesn't have a leg to stand on, legally speaking. The only things they have left are threats, demands, finger pointing, propaganda, and oft regurgitated mantra of "historic rights" and "Egypt is the gift of the Nile"... blah blah blah. It sounds all so romantic, doesn't it? But there's no legal basis for it. The only other option it has left is to cooperate and share. The upstream countries are going anywhere anytime soon.
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