President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt has criticised Ethiopia over the hydroelectric dam it is building on the Nile, saying its negative attitude and unilateralism during a decade of on-off negotiations posed a threat to the security and stability of the region.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in a pre-recorded address, Mr El Sisi said Egypt recognised the development needs of Ethiopia, which intends the power from the dam to lift millions of its people from poverty.
Egypt is alarmed that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will significantly reduce its share of the Nile water, wiping out hundreds of thousands of jobs and disrupting its delicate food balance. Egypt, Mr El Sisi said, as it is does not have enough fresh water for its 100 million people.
“The River Nile has been Egypt’s only lifeline throughout history and that explains the deep alarm felt by Egyptians over Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam,” said the Egyptian leader, who earlier this year said his country’s share of the Nile’s water was an existential issue.
He said Ethiopia was inexplicably refusing to deal positively with the negotiations, which have also involved Sudan, another downstream nation.
“It has chosen unilateralism and a policy of imposing the fait accompli, which threaten the stability and security of the entire region,” he said.
Egypt and Sudan have been pressing Ethiopia to enter a legally binding agreement on the operation and filling of the dam as well as mechanisms to deal with future drought and dispute. Ethiopia says guidelines should suffice, while assuring Cairo and Khartoum that no harm would come to them.
Sudan, a close Egyptian ally, says it wants Ethiopia to share real-time data on the operation of the dam to avert ruinous floods and allow its own power-generating dams on the Nile.