Egypt and Ethiopia have reached a deadlock in further studies on the effects of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on downstream countries, Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper reports.
This information was conveyed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday after the latter phoned Shoukry, to ask about progress, according to a foreign office press statement.
During the telephonic conversation the Egyptian foreign minister outlined the “strained technical path related to preparing studies on the effect of the dam on downstream countries, as well as ways to avoid them” and outlined Cairo’s dependence on the Nile as its sole source of water.
Negotiations on how to conduct technical studies of the dam’s potential impact on downstream countries, between the three countries involved, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, broke down last week.
The dam, situated near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, is slated for completion this year and expected to generate 6 000 MW of electricity.
Ethiopia wants to be able to export electricity generated by the dam which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
However, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El Sisi is concerned that the dam would eat into Egypt’s share of Nile water which the Egyptians describe as “a matter of life and death for the nation”.
El-Sisi said that while he understands the developmental goals behind GERD, he warned Egypt’s share of the Nile water is a “a matter of life or death for the nation”.
Addis Ababa disputes this saying that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.
Almost all of Egypt’s 96-million-plus people live within a several kilometres of the Nile and Egyptian farmers are dependent on the river for their farming in a country which receives very little rainfall.
Disputes over the Nile water resources have been a source of tension between Cairo and its neighbours over the years with earlier predictions warning of an insufficient water supply by 2017.