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Ethiopia FM: Egypt wants to monopolise Nile River waters

An Egyptian man can be seen on his boat on the river Nile in Cairo, Egypt on 3 April 2011 [Wissam Nassar/Apaimages]
An Egyptian man can be seen on his boat on the river Nile in Cairo, Egypt on 3 April 2011 [Wissam Nassar/Apaimages]

Ethiopia has no problems with Egypt, issues between the two countries only arise when Cairo tries to monopolise Nile waters, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said.

Speaking to the Ethiopian Herald, Ambassador Dina Mufti said: “We believe as much as Egypt is entitled to use the Nile River, Ethiopia is also entitled … We are not against Egyptians or Sudanese’s rights to utilize the river. We are for using the resource fairly. We are bitter when Egypt comes outs and claims a monopoly.”

“Ethiopia is the source of the Nile River. More than 86 percent of the water of the Nile River emanates from Ethiopia. This is Ethiopia’s natural endowment. This logically approves Ethiopia’s full right to use its water resources,” he continued.

“I would like to highlight Ethiopia’s commitment to addressing the concerns of the downstream countries. That commitment served as the background to the current negotiations.”

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“It wanted to cooperate with them and make the river the source of cooperation instead of conflict.”

But Egypt, he continued, “is claiming historic rights which were allotted it by the colonial agreement”, this does not provide a “sense of equity”.

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.

There is also an unresolved issues over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.

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