Ethiopia and Egypt vowed yesterday to resolve their differences over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile that Egypt fears will threaten its water supplies.
At a press conferee in Cairo during a two-day summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signalled they had made a breakthrough on talks, which have produced no satisfactory results since November last year.
"We have come a long way in building confidence and strengthening bilateral cooperation," Sisi said, reports Reuters.
Ahmed, speaking in his native Amharic language, said Ethiopia was committed to ensuring Egypt’s share of Nile water.
"We will take care of the Nile and we will preserve your share and we will work to increase this quota and President Sisi and I will work on this," Ahmed said, addressing Egyptians.
The two sides agreed to begin outlining an agreement that includes Sudan, and to set up a fund for infrastructure in the three countries.
At the news conference, Sisi asked Ahmed to swear to God before the Egyptian people that he will not hurt Egypt’s share of the Nile.
"I swear to God, we will never harm you," Ahmed repeated the words in Arabic after Sisi, who thanked him for releasing jailed Ethiopians.
A stalemate set in in November last year when negotiations over the scope of impact studies broke down. Since then, tensions have mounted after repeated rounds of talks failed.
Egypt fears too much of the Nile’s waters could be retained each year, affecting its agriculture, while Ethiopia views the dam as crucial to its national development.
Built by Italian contractor Salini Impregilo, the 6.4GW dam is now more than 60% complete. When operating, it will boost Ethiopia’s generating capacity, which stands now at 4GW, by 160%.
Ethiopia denies that the dam will hurt Egypt’s water supplies. The country says 60 million of its citizens have no access to electricity.
Image: Aerial view of the Grand Renaissance Dam, from a Salini Impregilo video