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Ethiopia - Egypt : Is a war over the Nile still imminent?



  11:29:38 am, by admin   , 853 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Egypt : Is a war over the Nile still imminent?

Ethiopia contributes 80% of the total Nile flow

Ethiopia - Egypt : Is a war over the Nile still imminent?


Until the recent positive signs of cooperation between some of the Nile riparian states, disputes between the downstream and upper riparian states over rights to the waters of the Nile have been a contentious issue for centuries.

The outcome of the Nile water negotiations could have profound consequences for the region and the African continent. In May 2010, five upstream states signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) to access more water from the Nile. This move was strongly opposed by Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania were original signatories with Burundi signing in February 2011. The CFA is designed to replace both the 1929 treaty and the 1959 bilateral agreement between Sudan and Egypt, which is now considered to be the main bone of contention among the riparian states. Egypt dismissed the CFA out of hand.

Subsequently, Ethiopia began to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is expected to be a 63 billion cubic metre reservoir. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be Africa's largest hydroelectric facility and its construction started 40km upstream from Sudan on the Ethiopian portion of the Blue Nile. Although Ethiopia has agreed not to use the reservoir for irrigation, the new dam has become a problem for Egypt.

According to a recent WikiLeaks report, Sudan agreed to host an Egyptian airbase in Kuris in the west of its Darfur region. Consequently, this base could be used to launch an Egyptian assault on the Ethiopian dam, if diplomatic efforts fail.

The WikiLeaks report, emanating from Stratfor, a private intelligence agency, also claimed that Egyptian officials said: 'If it comes to a crisis, we will send a jet to bomb the dam and come back in one day, as simple as that. Or we can send our special forces in to block/sabotage the dam.'

It is clear that Ethiopia's giant hydroelectric dam project, which is underway, signals the seriousness of regional resentment over the previous treaties on sharing the waters of the Nile. Egypt and Sudan hold absolute rights to 100% of the river's water under the treaty signed in 1929 between Egypt and Britain, which was then the colonial power in Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. This treaty was reinforced by the 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan where the Nile waters were divided between the two downstream nations. Both the 1929 and the 1959 agreements were rejected by many of these countries after they had attained independence.
Amid the mistrust, suspicion, controversy and threat of conflict over the use of the Nile waters, on 8 October 2012 a ten-member committee of experts and professionals from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia began to discuss the possible impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The committee also visited the construction site, in accordance with Article 3(8) of the CFA that states the principle 'that the Nile Basin states exchange information on planned measures through the Nile River Basin Commission as part of the Nile Basin
Initiative (NBI)'. This is also in accordance with Article 7, which states: '[I]n pursuance of their cooperation concerning the use, development and protection of the Nile River Basin and its water resources, Nile Basin states shall on a regular basis exchange readily available and relevant data and information on existing measures and on the condition of water resources of the Basin.'

At the same time, on the sidelines of the meetings, the Nile Tripartite Committee composed of experts drawn from Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and four international experts, including the International Panel of Experts (IPoE), also met. The objective of the meeting was to continue studying the possible impact of the dam on downstream countries, particularly Egypt and Sudan.

Tensions in the Horn of Africa are of great concern to the international community, due to its volatility. Water scarcity, food insecurity, climate-induced migration and poverty are increasingly being experienced in many parts of the riparian states. Conflicts emerging here might spread political, social and economic instability to surrounding areas. Conflict is likely to emerge as long as the downstream states believe their interests in the shared water resource are threatened by the actions of the upstream states. In addition, conflict over the Nile's waters could also fan existing conflicts in the region, making them more complex and harder to address.

However, instead of conflict, the Nile waters could lead to greater interdependence through cooperation and mutual benefits. By coming together to jointly manage their shared water resources, countries could build trust and prevent conflict. In the face of potential conflict and regional instability, the Nile basin countries should continue to seek cooperative solutions. The political will to develop a new legal framework for managing the Nile should continue.

Finally, it should be noted that the only promising way of avoiding future conflicts in the utilisation of the Nile waters remains focusing on a systematic collaboration among all stakeholders that would maximise the mutual benefits for all sides while contributing to the social, economic and political development of the region.

DEBAY TADESSE is Senior Researcher, Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division at ISS Addis Ababa (Institute Of Security Studies)


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Comment from: [Member]

No way we Ethiopians inside and out will pay whatever it takes. It is our own resorce and no one will stop us using it.No matter what we all will come togther and protect our country from our enemies like Egypt.

Death to Egypt and all of our enemies
Long life to Ethiopia

10/19/12 @ 12:10
Comment from: koster [Visitor]

Both Egypt and Ethiopia need is a free and democratic government not one who tries to prolong his reign of terror by beating the war drum. Ethiopians and Egyptians need more than anything else freedom not war. If there is a free and democratic government all problems will be solved in a free and democratic way - people participation is important and the national issues should not be left to some blood suckers.

10/19/12 @ 12:29
Comment from: solomon [Visitor]

Egypt they have to stop what they are doing right now before getintg worest . just take ur tax payer money from usa.( walfare )

10/19/12 @ 12:48
Comment from: KENYA [Visitor]
5 stars

koster ::this is not aboutdemocracy this is about national interest learn from Americans stupid!!

10/19/12 @ 13:31
Comment from: Gragn Ahmed [Visitor]
Gragn Ahmed

Water s the future oil. Saudi needs some part of Nile as Libya did. Nile is for all of us Libya Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and Eritrea.

10/19/12 @ 13:34
Comment from: Listen [Visitor]

Thank you Kenya for you gave good answer for Koster. It’s clear there are few of us and some of not Ethiopians don’t know what is country. Is this kind of issue is not about democracy, it’s privilege. Is that mean if there no democratic government in Ethiopia (if this person an Ethiopian) he/she will not stand or fight to keep Ethiopia’s rights? Bad, very bad. No mind for this person. The good thing is 99% of one country’s population stand for their country’s right. So Egypt will not do anything at all. Not at all. Again not at all. Again 99% of Ethiopian people will fight for our interest as anyone else. Stay to see everything.

10/19/12 @ 15:07
Comment from: Tameru [Visitor]

@Koster, Your point does not make sense.Freedom and democracy is not a solution for all things.For instance,relatively there is freedom and democratically elected government in Israelis and Palestinians but they still fight for piece of land for nearly a century.

10/19/12 @ 15:11
Comment from: Yirgacheffee [Visitor]

koster, you’re an idiot!

KENYA, thank you!

10/19/12 @ 15:12
Comment from: egypt_vs_ethiopain [Visitor]
5 stars

War between the 2 countries is inevitable. Both countries are poor and politically unstable, with rapidly expanding populations. There just isn’t enough water for everyone. Egypt simply will not allow its legal share of water to be diminished in any way.

10/19/12 @ 16:03
Comment from: Berhanemarcos Tadesse [Visitor]
Berhanemarcos Tadesse
3 stars


If you have read the 1959 agreement,Nile challenges lie ahead of the Nile Water Sharing. In fact, “Egypt must first realize that it faces a major threat to its national security; water is vital to a major agricultural country like Egypt, and the Nile provides the country with 86 percent of its water needs and about 92 percent of the water used in agriculture,” explains Mohamed Ibrahim, an assistant professor of agricultural economics at Alexandria University.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has abstained from signing for the time being, preferring more negotiations. Egypt and Sudan have refused to sign, declaring their stand behind a 1959 sharing agreement allocating them a majority of the water. The 1959 agreement came as a revisited version of the first agreement dating back to 1929, formulated between Egypt and Britain on behalf of Britain’s African colonies. It gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects and the lion’s share of Nile water.

In 1959, the agreement was revised between Egypt and Sudan, giving the two countries absolute rights to use 90 percent of the river’s waters. According to the current 1959 Nile agreement that is still in place today, Egypt has exclusive use of 55.5 billion cubic meters — or 87 percent of the Nile flow — with Sudan enjoying the exploitation of 18.5 cubic meters of the water.

Nile Basin countries have long called for a new treaty to delineate a more equitable distribution of water. After almost 10 years of lengthy negotiations, the Cooperative Framework Agreement was formulated in 2010 and was immediately signed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Burundi signed a year later.

10/19/12 @ 18:41
Comment from: john john [Visitor]
john john
5 stars

Very good article but its up to Egypt and Sudan to cooperate in this matter rather than bragging about out dated colonial evil deal they had to remind you all both Egypt and Sudan never contribute single pocket of water into Nile.They should have thank the Ethiopian Government for willing to be flexible and share it’s natural resource. Do they share their natural resource to any one ? NO!
“Win Win solution is better than foot dragging like Egyptian”

10/20/12 @ 00:59
Comment from: Gondar [Visitor]

if it is bring and Collapse down the so called TPLF,

10/20/12 @ 01:35
Comment from: sf [Visitor]

@KENEYA,Tameru, and others,

National interest with out freedom and democracy is like a house with out a foundation!!!
It is the base for every thing. Don’t afraid the word and the action of democracy,freedom and equality. It willn’t hurt nobody [Ethiopia, Egypt,Sudan,You and Me]!!!
Democracy and freedom are the basic tools for every thing in this world.
If there is no peace beween Isreal and palastien; mostly the problem comes from the Palistinen side and the hard liners from Isrealis sides. This two groups don’t believe from the bottom of their hart in freedom and democracy. It is the same with most Ethiopians and CADRES.

10/20/12 @ 01:48
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

All we hear here and there on the Blue Nile Final issues are simple speculations .Not a single word from
any Agazi Authority on the environmental consequences .The Hidden agreement with the El Beshir Regime on the lands given to Sudan .
The Renaissance Dam Project smells more Agazi Bandits Propagandas based on ,diverting peoples from their sad days to days life , promoting the Image
of their Dead Master and TPLF.

10/20/12 @ 01:49
Comment from: Bona Fide [Visitor]
Bona Fide

Egypt is trying to exploit the change that has and is taking place in Ethiopia, after the death of the late PM. It sees an inherent weakness in the administration, because power change in Ethiopia has always been through upheavals, and still she has not lost the hope that Ethiopians would be at each other’s throat due to ethnic-fueled power conflict.

Egypt believes that the new PM is from a minority ethnic group, power continues to lie in the hands of TPLF, HMD is a vulnerable duck and therefore she can twist his arms. With the help of international lobbyists and journalists who are ready to spew fear on payment, Egypt is using the armed-conflict-fear-factor, as if Ethiopians do not know what war is, and as if they are going to lose their sleep over it.

It would be a very sad phenomenon,if we are going to see some Ethiopians, whatever their religion, be it Christian or Muslims, out of hate and ignorance are ready to sacrifice Ethiopia (their home and country) to a foreign power. Such phenomenon is fortunately extremely rare; nevertheless, such people as individuals or as a group might act as Trojan horses for the sinister actions of Egypt, and they should be deterred by all means possible. Egypt is counting on insurgency and mobilization of those forces within and outside the country that hate the very essence of Ethiopia.

Ethiopians need unity more than any time in their entire history. The measures taken at government level should be decisive. Ethiopians should always be ready to defend the dam. The government should mobilize all nations, nationalities and tribes and all religious groups. If Ethiopia’s endeavor of making the Nile a river equally shared by the three countries fails, and the colonial treaty that is nothing else but an insult to Ethiopia’s dignity as the source of the Blue Nile remains, it means hunger and death for their children, darkness and an impoverished life forever as it has been up to now.

Much more than anything else, the Nile should bind all Ethiopians, and defending or not defending the God-given rights of Ethiopia means life or death. If Ethiopia loses her rights now, she will lose it forever. This generation of Ethiopians will be condemned by posterity for betraying the future of the country, and they will have every right to do so. It is now or never.

10/20/12 @ 02:29

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