If you have never heard of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam Project, it is a a $4.7 billion dollar, 1,800 km long dam which has the capability of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity for Ethiopia and the surrounding countries. At the present moment in time the project is estimated to be around 70% complete, but it is already active and reportedly generating revenue for the Ethiopian Government as we speak – construction is anticipated to be finished by July 2017.
Before we begin, why is a Dam in Ethiopia causing political uproar in Egypt?
Believe it or not, the current geo-political standoff is caused almost entirely by “Geology.” To understand what I mean, please watch the following video first…
When a river only has two sources and you put a plug right on the top of one, naturally this is going to decrease water-flow at the rivers end – cause and effect.
Leaders in Ethiopia are well aware of Egypt’s concerns, but add that Egypt’s decrease in water will be “manageable.” Moreover, Ethiopia has existed as one of the poorest countries in the history of modern civilization and now that the country will finally be generating income to improve the lives of their people, Ethiopia does not believe it has to apologize for anything – they are just advancing their own “National Interests.”
Egypt on the other hand has been suffering from a severe drought, something that many farmers fear is only going to get worse once Ethiopia’s Dam is completed and goes operational. This also adds to the historical geological records, which shows that dating back to Egypt’s height during the days of the Pyramids, the volume of water flowing through the Nile has been naturally declining over the centuries.
So there Egypt sits, geologically at mercy to every single country upstream from them, of which there are 9, including 6 other dams. Due to where Egypt as a country is positioned geologically on a map, there is nothing Egypt can really do to stop any of this, it is is just their luck.
Top 9 Countries With Worst Fresh #Water Resources Per Capita:
— Assaad Razzouk (@AssaadRazzouk) July 31, 2016
As for the political ramifications of Egypt’s decrease in water share, the countries number one export over time has always been agricultural exports. Not only have exports decreased over time because Israels blockade to the West, but farmers can no longer sell/produce as many crops as they used to, because water available from the Nile has reduced and the country no longer receives fine silt deposits to fertilize the soil for agriculture.
While I think I have demonstrated that part of this standoff is a result of naturally occurring phenomenon beyond any Governments control, such as planetary climatological cycles, it is almost a matter of principle. Egypt has been beaten down over time and the people of Egypt are currently struggling with an economic crisis of their own. Cutting off more of Egypt’s water when the country is already facing these problems is only adding injury to insult.
As reported by Middle East Eye January 19th 2017, “A group of Egyptian lawyers and political activists are preparing a lawsuit to challenge a March 2015 preliminary deal agreed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Ethiopia’s Nile dam project.” This news corporation has gone on to write several different well written pieces on this current dispute and I recommend reading the following articles if you would like to get caught up on the matter even more….
12/20/2016 | Saudi Arabian Diplomat, Falsely Labeled a Diplomat from Qatar by Egyptian Media, Causes Political Tension Between Gulf State’s as Figure Heads Meet: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egyptian-gulf-relations-take-new-dip-after-saudi-delegation-visits-ethiopia-dam-30425904
1/13/2017 | Egyptian Farmers Fear Drought – Without The Nile There Is No Life: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/egyptian-farmers-without-nile-there-no-life-egypt-765842704
1/19/2017 | Egyptian Lawyers Move To Overturn President Sisi’s Political Legislation Supporting The Ethiopian Dam Project: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egyptian-lawyers-move-overturn-sisis-support-nile-dam-project-2083152082
Political activists in Egypt have warned that the Ethiopia’s Dam could be the straw that breaks the camels back – so to speak. Some are even suggesting that Ethiopia’s Dam Project could eventually result in War between the two countries. As the headlines above chronicle, this line of thinking it also gaining momentum inside the country.
To these claims, as other pro-Ethiopian activists have pointed out:
“All the war talk is coming from chauvinistic Egyptians who think Ethiopians are culturally and racially inferior.
A few years ago Egyptians made hollow threats against Ethiopia and it was televised. Ethiopians have been more than cordial to Egyptians who have been influenced by wild conspiracies about “Zionist” and Saudi plots to take water from them.
If Egypt was to attack Ethiopia they would have to fly thousands of miles without refueling. It’s not feasible. Not to mention they risk politically isolating themselves again in Africa by being the aggressor. How would it look when the “Arab Republic” is attacking the poor black African country trying to build infrastructure in their own territory.
Also, Egypt is already preoccupied with a war on terror, trying to root out ISIS. They can’t afford a war far away in Ethiopia when that would only serve as a welcome distraction for ISIS. Even if Ethiopia was to lose, that doesn’t mean Egyptians would go unscathed. It wouldn’t be worth the loss of life nor the hatred they would sew across East Africa.
Sudan and other upstream countries agree with Ethiopia. Unlike Egypt in the past, Ethiopia welcomed Egypt to the negotiating table to address Nile water sharing. Egypt historically shunned Ethiopia on this issue, even trying to impose treaties that Ethiopians never had a legal obligation to.” – Levar Mitchell
At the present moment in time, there is no immanent threat of War between the two countries, but I would not suspect their relationship to be improving any time soon. Ethiopia is fully intent on finishing this Dam and reinvesting the profits back into their society. How Egypt will react, if they ever do, remains to be seen.
In the mean time, outside of this dispute entirely, it finally appears as though Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world on the economic upswing – with an unlimited ceiling potential at that. Egypt meanwhile, remains a country haunted by its past -hoping to once again return to prominence at some point in the future.
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