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Ethiopia on Renaissance Dam: ‘We will not suffer for the sake of Egypt’s prosperity’

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on 26 December 2019. - The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a 145-metre-high, 1.8-kilometre-long concrete colossus is set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa. Across Ethiopia, poor farmers and rich businessmen alike eagerly await the more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity officials say it will ultimately provide. Yet as thousands of workers toil day and night to finish the project, Ethiopian negotiators remain locked in talks over how the dam will affect downstream neighbours, principally Egypt. [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images]
A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on 26 December 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP/Getty Images]

Members of the Ethiopian team negotiating the Renaissance Dam file with Egypt and Sudan revealed the details of the talks held with the Egyptian government over the past months, on the occasion of the passage of nine years since the start of the dam’s construction works.

The Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted Zerihoun Abe, a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team, as stating that through negotiations, Egypt has been aiming to revive the colonial agreement of 1959.

“Egypt has been trying to use sterile tactics to revive its colonial desire. They [the Egyptians] believe that they can impose their colonial desires on the upstream countries, and they want to make Ethiopia and the other upstream countries colonies under their control,” added Abe.

He indicated that: “The only way out of this matter is a serious negotiation based on the spirit of cooperation with other basin countries.”

The member of the Ethiopian negotiating team pointed out that the problem relates to the sharing and distribution of water, stressing that: “Countries must be ready to make concessions as it is extremely important to achieve sustainable development and peace in the region.”

Read: Ethiopian army ‘ready to protect Renaissance Dam’

He further clarified that in the event of a drought, Egypt and Ethiopia must face it together as a natural catastrophe, adding that: “Ethiopia will not suffer alone for the sake of Egypt’s prosperity.”

ENA quoted another member of the Ethiopian negotiating team, Yilma Seleshi, explaining that: “Egypt has come out as usual with an unacceptable diversion plan in the name of drought mitigation.”

Seleshi stressed that the 1959 agreement was unacceptable, leaving Ethiopia with a: “Zero share of the Nile water.”

The member of the Ethiopian negotiating team also pointed out that Ethiopia is working on the principle of the fair and reasonable use of the Nile water, while Egypt does not want to share the water: “Egypt’s interest is very clear. They want to maintain the right to use the water in a proper or indirect way of the 1959 agreement. ”

Read: Sisi sends messages across Africa about Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam

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