Ethiopia Rejects WB Mediation over Nile Dam
Ethiopia has rejected the World Bank’s (WB) mediation over the row with Egypt concerning the repercussions of the giant hydroelectric dam Addis Ababa is building on the Nile River, Cairo deeming the project threatens its water security.
The Ethiopian stance was expressed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Sunday.
“Ethiopia will not accept Egypt’s request to include the World Bank in the tripartite technical committee’s talks on the dam,” Desalegn told the state run Ethiopian News Agency after a visit to Cairo.
Ethiopia has also refused to sideline Sudan from the talks in a sign that indicates rising frictions between Addis Ababa and Cairo, which fears that the Ethiopian dam will have repercussions on its share of Nile water.
Egyptian President Sisi is apparently trying to defuse tension. “The Nile basin enjoys great resources and capabilities that makes it a source of interconnection, building and development, not a source of conflict,” Sisi had told reporters after meeting Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in Cairo.
Commentators see tougher times ahead for negotiations over the Nile dam in light of the surge in tension between Egypt on one side and Sudan and Ethiopia on the other side.
Egypt has sent its troops to a UAE military base in Eritrea, a foe of Ethiopia and Sudan. The Egyptian-Eritrean alliance is angering Addis Ababa and Khartoum who would use their rapprochement to strengthen their positions vis-a-vis Egypt that they accuse of benefiting from a colonial era agreement governing the distribution of Nile Water that is detrimental to their national interests.
Ethiopia is building the dam to satisfy its electricity needs and export output to neighboring countries, while Sudan wants a reconsideration of the 1950s agreement. Egypt, which considers the Nile a matter of life or death, fears that the Ethiopian dam will further diminish its share of Nile water amid a surge in domestic demand.