Ethiopia has started the second phase of filling a controversial Nile dam, Egypt said on Monday (July 5th). An initiative that risks increasing tension in the run-up to a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.
Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty, briefed by Addis Ababa on the start of the second phase of filling, said “Firmly reject [cette] unilateral measure ‘, according to a statement from his ministry released Monday. The start of this second phase of filling the dam “Represents a violation of international laws and standards that regulate construction projects on shared basins of international rivers”, he was indignant.
The Renaissance Dam, built by Ethiopia upstream of the Nile, has long been the subject of conflict with Egypt and Sudan, which fear for their water resources. The UN Security Council is due to meet on Thursday on this subject at the request of Tunisia, a non-permanent member of the council and representative of the Arab world, on behalf of Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia is opposed to this meeting but is also expected to attend.
In recent weeks, Sudan and Egypt had sent letters to the UN calling for an urgent referral to the Security Council. In his, the head of the Egyptian diplomacy, Sameh Choukri, deplored that the negotiations have been deadlocked since April and accused Ethiopia of having “Adopted an uncompromising line by which it torpedoed the collective action taken to reach an agreement on the Renaissance dam”.
“We can open the door”
At the end of last week, France, which chaired the Security Council in July, considered that the power of this body to find a solution to this conflict was limited, while it is rather managed by the African Union (AU ). “I don’t think the Security Council can resolve the roadblock issue on its own., said French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière. We can open the door, invite the three countries to the table, express their concerns, encourage them to come back to the negotiations to find a solution. “.
Construction of the dam by Ethiopia began in 2011. Downstream, Egypt and Sudan are demanding an agreement with Addis Ababa on the filling of its reservoir. Ethiopia, which said it had operated the first phase of filling in the summer of 2020, had recently announced that it would proceed to the second phase in July, with or without an agreement. She says the dam is vital to meeting the energy needs of its 110 million people.
Sudan hopes the dam will regulate its annual flooding, but fears adverse effects without agreement. Egypt, which is 97% dependent on the Nile for its water supply, sees it as a threat to its resources. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Choukri, however, said in May that the second phase of filling the tank “Will not affect[it] not interest in water “ from his country. “Rest assured that we have sufficient water resources in the High Dam reservoir” in Aswan, in southern Egypt, he said on a local television station.
The Renaissance Dam, with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters of water, is built in northwest Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan, on the Blue Nile, which joins the Nile white in Khartoum to form the Nile. With an announced power generation capacity of nearly 6,500 megawatts, it could become the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa.