Egypt has expressed dismay at Italy, Germany, and China for continuing to work on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Nile through their companies, which it fears will affect its historic share of the river’s water.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Ambassador Hamdi Sanad Loza, Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs held on Sunday a meeting with the ambassadors of Germany, Italy and, China, which are the countries whose companies are working on the GERD.”
According to the statement, Loza expressed Egypt’s dissatisfaction with the fact that these companies continue to work on the dam despite the lack of studies on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the dam on Egypt, in addition to knowing that the negotiations between the two countries were stalled.
“The lack of studies and the failure to reach an agreement to fill and operate the GERD are a violation of Ethiopia’s obligations under the Declaration of Principles and under the rules of international law,” he said.
Loza stressed “the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities in affirming Ethiopia’s commitment to the principle of not causing serious harm to Egypt, and work to reach an agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt’s water.”
During the 31st Armed Forces Educational Seminar on the occasion of the 1973 October war victory celebrations that took place on Sunday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that he would meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali soon in Moscow to consult the deadlock over GERD negotiations and how to end points of disagreement to ensure the interests of all parties.
Al-Sisi added that Egypt is currently at the stage of water poverty, according to international standards, as the size of water quantity available to the country is no longer like it use to be.
The Egyptian President said that the situation Egypt witnessed after the events of 25 January 2011 revolution, caused Ethiopia to unilaterally decide to start building GERD, in the absence of the Egyptian state.
Al-Sisi added that if the events of 2011 had not occurred, it would have been possible to draw up a plan, which would guarantee the interests of Egypt and Ethiopia at the same time. However, this did not happen, as Ethiopia initiated the construction of the dam.
He explained that after taking over in 2014, he concluded an agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan, which included several points, on how to implement and organise the filling and operation of the dam via negotiations.
Al-Sisi pointed out that the negotiations did not result in achieving technical consensus between Egypt and Ethiopia on these points.
In the same context, he stressed that the Egyptian state is moving rapidly to implement large numbers of desalination plants in many governorates of Egypt.
“The Egyptian state aims to reach the production of one million cubic meters (cm) of clean water per day, to meet the growing deficit in Egypt’s growing water needs due to rapid population growth,” he explained.
He pointed out that the share of water planned for Egypt through the Nile River and its tributaries of 55bn cm annually is not enough to meet the different needs of water for Egyptians.
In the wake of the recent deadlock between Egypt and Ethiopia on GERD, Egypt has been living in a state of anxiety over the future of their water share of the Nile, especially after official statements came out to confirm that the construction of the dam will indeed affect Egypt’s share.
Al-Sisi said recently on the side lines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held in New York that the GERD will operate by imposing a fait accompli, seeing as Egypt has no other source of water except the Nile River, pointing out that 95% of Egypt’s area is desert and any damage to water will greatly and negatively affect the population.
“We are responsible for the security of our citizens,” he said.
Also, Al-Sisi called for “international intervention in the GERD” negotiations, his call has been followed by acceleration from his government to gain support from different countries. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry raised the issue and its developments with his counterparts from four countries, including Russia, in separate bilateral meetings in New York, on the side lines of the annual meetings of the UN.
Egypt fears that the Ethiopian dam will damage its limited share of the Nile’s water, estimated at 55.5bn cm, which 90% is used in drinking, agriculture and industry. Cairo says Ethiopia has rejected its proposals on rules for filling and operating the dam.