President Sisi says River Nile lifeline for Egyptians, slams Ethiopia's intransigence in GERD talks

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 22 Sep 2021

El-Sisi said that Egypt, which recongises the developmental rights of its African brothers, is considered one of the most water-deficient countries and its people remains under the water poverty line

A file photo of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi slammed on Tuesday Ethiopia's "intransigence", which has strained the decade-long negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The president said the River Nile has been Egypt’s “only lifeline throughout history,” affirming that this explains “the overwhelming concern of Egyptian citizens over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

El-Sisi’s remarks came in a recorded speech delivered to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday.

“Perhaps you all know the outcome of the ongoing decade long negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan as a result of Addis Ababa’s known intransigence and unjustified rejection to deal positively with the process in its consecutive stages,” El-Sisi said.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for a decade now to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement over GERD to no avail.

Both Cairo and Khartoum do not oppose Addis Ababa's development goals, however, they are seeking a legally binding agreement that regulates the rules of filling and operating the dam, as Egypt fears the unilateral filling and operation of the dam would have an impact on its water supply and Sudan is concerned about regulating flows to its own dams and their safety.

The president also slammed the “adoption of unilateral approach and the policy of imposing the fait accompli” during the GERD negotiations, affirming that “this portends wide threat to the security and stability of the entire region.”

El-Sisi said that “Egypt, which recongises the developmental rights of its [African] brothers, is considered one of the most water-deficient countries and its people remains under the water poverty line”.

Some 85 percent of the river waters in Egypt flows from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile — one of the Nile’s two main tributaries along with the While Nile.

Egypt, which is considered one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, receives around 60 bcm annually, mainly from the Nile. However, its needs stand at around 114 bcm, placing the 102-million-plus country well below the international threshold for water scarcity at 560 cubic meters per person annually.

The large gap in water resources in Egypt is overcome by importing 54 percent of its consumption and reusing 42 percent of its renewable sources, according to Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation.

“Egypt is closely linked to its African reality that [the country] is very proud of and that is not only related to its geographic location; it is also related to its existence,” El-Sisi said.

He affirmed that cooperation among the African countries will “not be achieved by “one party defining the requirements of another, but this process must rather be reciprocal.”

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