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Qatar Emir heads to Ethiopia

General view of the Blue Nile [Bertramz/Wikipedia]
General view of the Blue Nile [Bertramz/Wikipedia]

Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani began a two-day official visit to Ethiopia today, his first to the African country since he gained power in 2013.

According to an Ethiopian news agency, Tamim is scheduled to meet with President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to tackle bilateral issues of joint interest and hold talks to boost cooperation between the two states.

    The basin countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi

The two sides are also expected to sign agreements and memorandums of understanding.

Former secretary general of the Organisation of African Unity, Ahmed Haggag, described Qatar’s recent moves, particularly in Africa and Ethiopia, as “dubious” and accused the Gulf state of urging Ethiopia to take a hostile stance against Egypt.

Haggag called on Egypt to “ignore” Qatar and its attempts to offer military and financial aid to Ethiopia to create tension between it and Egypt, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Egypt and Ethiopia are currently at odds over the Renaissance Dam which Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile. It is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani [file photo]

The United Nations and the African Union warned that Ethiopia’s “aggressive escalation” in going ahead with the dam could reduce Egypt’s few acres of farmland by a fourth.

The dam will be the biggest hydropower plant in Africa and is expected to triple Ethiopia’s energy capacity and enable it to export electricity to boot, putting an end to the frequent daily blackouts that are common across the country.

The Nile provides Egypt with 97 per cent of its water with at least 60 per cent of it flowing from the Blue Nile that runs through Ethiopia. With Egypt already a water-impoverished country, any threat to the Nile is disastrous for the North African country.

The main concern is how quickly Ethiopia will fill the reservoir once the dam is built, a point that is still being negotiated between the two countries along with Sudan.

Egypt’s annual share of the Nile waters is enshrined in a 1959 treaty brokered by Great Britain that granted Egypt and Sudan the rights to the vast majority of the river’s approximately 80 billion cubic metres.

Egypt is currently calling for dialogue regarding amending the Entebbe Agreement’s controversial clauses; namely to be notified by upstream countries before undertaking any project along the Nile; for Egypt’s quota of the Nile’s water to be recognised as part of the agreement’s water security; and for all decisions to be made in consensus with all basin countries.

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