US mediates between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile dam conflict

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry traveled to Washington yesterday for US-mediated talks with Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia is building on a tributary of the Nile River, raising concerns over water security in Egypt.

Egypt called for international involvement in the dispute after successive rounds of talks failed to resolve the issue of how fast Ethiopia would fill the vast GERD reservoir. 

Ethiopia wants to fill it within six years, but Egypt believes that is too fast and will reduce the flow of the Nile, its principle source of fresh water. Egypt prefers a 10-year time frame.

Meetings in Washington are scheduled for 6 November, and will be attended by an official from the World Bank, Egyptian media report.

Ethiopia started building the 6.4GW GERD in 2011 as Egypt was gripped by upheavals in the Arab Spring. It has sparked diplomatic tensions with Egypt, which worries about its water supply.

The dam will dramatically increase Ethiopia’s power generation capacity, and Ethiopians see it as central to their country’s development and prestige.

Image: President Donald Trump greets the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, prior to a bilateral meeting on 21 May 2017 in Saudi Arabia (Public domain/White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

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