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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Mohammed Abdo Hassanein

Egypt Hopes an ‘African Push’ to Resolve Dam Dispute

Shoukry meets the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa on the sidelines of AU meetings. (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)

Egypt intends to showcase the developments of the dispute with Ethiopia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the African Union Summit, which will launch on Saturday in Addis Ababa.

Egypt hopes for an "African push" that could break through the stalled negotiations for two years now.

Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry led the Egyptian delegation to the 42nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council held on Wednesday and Thursday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that Shoukry was keen during his meetings with the ministers of Nile Basin countries and African ministers to explain the Egyptian stance in this matter.

Moreover, Shoukry met Thursday with the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh.

The talks addressed several matters related to peace and security in the Horn of Africa.

The minister affirmed Egypt’s stance on the necessity to reach a binding deal on the filling and operation of the GERD, stressing the need to ensure that the deal on GERD takes into consideration the interests of the three countries and preserves Egypt’s water rights.

Egypt fears that its share of the waters of the Nile will be affected by the GERD that Ethiopia has been building since 2011 on the main tributary of the river.

Cairo is calling for a binding legal agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam, while Ethiopia is pushing for the construction of the hydroelectric dam, claiming its right to development by exploiting its water resources.

Egypt has been engaged in negotiations for more than a decade with Ethiopia and Sudan but no progress was made.

Abu Zeid said in televised statements on Wednesday that Egypt is always ready to negotiate on the Ethiopian dam issue but “in a serious manner”.

The talks between the three countries were halted in April 2021 after the AU failed to resolve the dispute. This pushed Egypt to protest at the Security Council and demand pressure on Ethiopia through international partners to accept an agreement that satisfies all parties.

Furthermore, Shoukry met the Rwandan Foreign Minister and expressed Egypt’s readiness to engage in serious talks that lead to a legally-binding agreement.

Samaa Suleiman, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Egyptian Senate, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the AU Summit is an opportunity to discuss the Egyptian concerns regarding the renaissance dam and to ensure that no harm is caused to Egypt amid its water resources shortage crisis.

Ethiopia kickstarted a year ago limited electricity production from the dam.

It further announced completion of the third filling of its mega-dam on the Blue Nile, which heightened tension with Egypt and Sudan.

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