Sisi expresses ‘extreme concern’ over Ethiopia’s Nile dam
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has relayed “extreme concern” to Ethiopia’s visiting prime minister over the lack of progress in talks on a controversial dam, which may reportedly reduce Egypt’s vital share of the Nile River and which also concerns Sudan.
Publish date : Friday 19 January 2018 14:52
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (R) meets with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the Presidential Palace in the capital, Cairo, January 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
In a joint news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday, Sisi warned that Egypt’s share of the Nile — which provides nearly all of its freshwater — was a red line.
But he reassured Ethiopia and Sudan that Egypt has no intention of going to war over the matter.
“I expressed our extreme concern over the continuation of the state of stagnation besetting the tripartite technical track,” which is aimed at examining the impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan, Sisi said.
He further added that he appreciated Ethiopia’s repeated assurances that the dam, which is about 60 percent complete, would not have a negative impact on Egypt, but emphasized that studies still had to be completed and that all sides had to respect the findings.
The Nile supplies the bulk of Egypt’s drinking water, irrigates the Nile Delta, and generates nearly half of the country’s electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam.
Egypt fears that the operation of the dam on the Nile would reduce the amount of water it gets, hence threatening its livelihood.
Desalegn said that the dam was needed to save his country from drought and famine.
“The people of Ethiopia did not nor will ever subject Egyptians to danger,” said Desalegn, who was on his first visit to Egypt as prime minister. “We will not hurt your country in any way and will work closely together to secure the life of the people of the Nile basin and take them out of the cycle of poverty.”
A deal was inked by Sisi, Desalegn, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in March 2015 aimed at setting principles to ensure that the construction of the dam would not harm the other two countries and that they would be compensated in case of any damage.
Many Egyptians — and Sudanese — are also concerned that their towns and villages will be swept away if the dam collapses.