Cairo, Addis Ababa Fail to Reach Deal over Nile Dispute

By on December 29, 2017

Egypt and Ethiopia have so far been unable to solve their row over $4 billion Ethiopian dam project on the Nile River. Egyptian authorities say the dam will reduce its share of the waters flowing down from Ethiopia through Sudan.

But, the Ethiopians affirm that the project, currently under construction, will not affect downstream countries once the 74 bcm reservoir has been filled. Addis Ababa has refused to officially recognize what Cairo considers its right to 55.5bn cubic meters of water every year.

This volume is specified under a 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan to which Ethiopia was not a signatory. Addis Ababa has long argued that its two northern neighbors divided up the entire flow of the river taking no account of its needs. Analysts say Ethiopia’s current stance is partly fuelled by this decades-old resentment.

Ministers from the two countries met on Tuesday in a bid to reach a consensus but failed. Countries that share the river have argued over the use of its waters for decades – and analysts have repeatedly warned that the disputes could eventually boil over into conflict.

Sudan and Ethiopia say Egypt has refused to accept amendments that they had put forward to the environmental report. Another source of disagreement is whether Ethiopia should be allowed to complete construction of the dam before the end of negotiations over ensuring water flows.

Egyptian officials say this would violate an agreement signed by all three countries in 2015 meant to ensure diplomatic cooperation. Work on the dam is already advanced and will be operational by the end of 2018.

Long considered an Egyptian ally, Sudan backs now Ethiopia but some experts say the new dam will end the seasonal fluctuations of the river and allow Sudan to expand its agriculture.

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