Egyptian Government Calls for Agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region, Ethiopia. (Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly stressed the necessity of reaching a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in a manner that preserves common interests, noting Egypt’s keenness to continue negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia.

During the opening of Cairo Water Week 2020, the prime minister spoke of the importance of not taking any unilateral decisions that would negatively affect stability in the region.

Madbouly stressed that the water axis is one of the most important pillars of Egyptian national security. Comprehensive sustainable development plans in all fields are linked to the state’s ability to provide the water resources for these plans.

He said that the state is striving to preserve water resources, maximizing the benefit from them and adopting an ambitious program to double the quantities of desalinated water used in the drinking water sector with investments amounting to EGP 135 billion ($8.6 billion) up to 2030.

He also referred to the establishment of the Al Mahsama Water Reclamation Plant in Ismailia saying that it is the best work of the year

“Now, there are many upstream countries trying to extend their hegemony over the water basins of many rivers in the Arab world. This is in order to control water flows and harm the riparian downstream countries and form a political geography of river basins through the national interests of upstream countries that are not dependent on the downstream countries,” Madbouly said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly

The Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, said that Ethiopia is still taking a firm stance regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

He added that Ethiopia’s intransigence in the negotiations will represent a major challenge due to the lack of agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam, despite the support provided by Egypt for the concerns of the Ethiopian side.

Abdel-Aty said that Egypt sought, through the agreement of principles signed in Sudan in 2015, to reach a fair and balanced agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, but Ethiopia had prevented that.

The dispute escalated, especially between Egypt and Ethiopia, months ago, with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announcing the start of filling the dam reservoir before the agreed date.