Will Egypt strike Ethiopia?


Ethio-Egypt Relations and the Renaissance Dam

the documentary begins with an animation of Egyptian jets flying to Ethiopia and conducting a bombing operation. The central question of this documentary: Will Egypt Strike Ethiopia? Indeed, the key topic is whether the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam entails an equitable sharing of Nile between the two countries and also Sudan.


Exhibit A is an Egypt Independent report on a Facebook page. An audio recording is on this page of the ex-President Hosni Mubarak. “Ethiopia would never have dared to do this under my presidency,” a voice, purportedly from Hosni Mubarak says. The host discloses that he is not sure if this was really Hosni Mubarak but that this is indicative of the tension: “I have no idea if this is truly from Hosni Mubarak. To be honest I couldn’t even find the facebook page.” The host of the Foreign Chronicles believes this is interesting because it is symptomatic of the great tension between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Next, Foreign Chronicles gives us a charting of the Nile river ‘starting from the point of view in Ethiopia” The host tells us that Ethiopia is very low in terms of human development, that Ethiopia faces huge droughts, ‘we don’t hear about it, but it is actually happening today.’ The host describes the cause as the El Nino phenomenon. He quotes the Irish Times which states that 8 million people received food assistance in the ‘first quarter of this year.’ Following this, the host states that President Meles Zenawi launched the Growth and Transformation Plan which is still in action today.

Causes of Tension Over Renissance Dam

Foreign Chronicles pinpoints the expansion of the amount of land under irrigation among the multiple challenges being faced in the Growth and Transformation Plan.  A news ticker runs underneath “Ethiopia inaugurates largest wind farm in Sub Saharan Africa”. Finally, we reach the major point. Ethiopia is building a gigantic dam which brings foreign investment, develops the economy and even makes energy export possible.

The Ethiopian government financed this dam even though it couldn’t get foreign investment. “Ethiopia is doing a tremendous financial effort and this is a problem for Sudan and Egypt.” The host now tells us he is talking about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Why would Sudan and Egypt be so upset, he asks?

Firstly, the client proposes dependence as an issue. Ethiopia with a dam can decide how much water flows. The GERD will be the largest in Africa. The size of the project makes it a geopolitical problem. The storage reservoir necessary for the dam to work at full capacity is 74 billion cubic waters, the host tells us. “Building up the GERD is a national project of huge importance,” he says.

See Also: Ethiopia to Restore Ownership of Teff 

Egyptian and Sudance Concerns of GERD

Now the host takes the point of view of Egypt and Sudan. To become dependent on Ethiopians on access the Nile water changes the strategic balance.

How can you ask such a thing without Egypt’s resistance? 90% of Egypt is a desert. 96% of Egypt’s freshwater supplies comes from the Nile. The host then proposes an Egyptian perspective and states ‘it is hardly acceptable for Egypt to lose independence and accept Nile flow reduction.’ He then moves on to the Sudanese perspective.’

Related: Al Jazeera Will Ethiopia be able to convince Egypt Over Nile

This documentary covers documents signed by Emperor Menelik and others from centuries ago, before the reality of hydro-electric dams. One such document allocates 88% of Nile Flow to Egypt and Sudan through colonizers, the then British Empire. Agreements discussed are documents from 1902. “What about all the other countries from the Nile Basin?” asks the host. Egyptian direct and indirect intervention in Ethiopian politics the 2010 Upstream countries agreement and other major issues are raised in this documentary by the Foreign Chronicle.

Related: Egypt and Sudan Tension over Dam Flares Up Again (Washington Post)