Sudan will mediate Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute

One of Africa’s most ambitious projects, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is set to turn the East African country into Africa’s water powerhouse. Image courtesy: All Africa

A top Sudanese general on Sunday said his country would mediate a deal on an escalating dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over Ethiopia’s controversial dam on the Nile River.

The deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said his country would work to bridge the gap and “reach an agreement” in the years-long dispute.

Tensions are rising in east Africa because of the impasse between Ethiopia and Egypt over the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It’s around 71% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people. Egypt fears the project — set to be Africa’s largest hydraulic dam — could reduce its share of the Nile, the main source of freshwater for Egypt’s population, also more than 100 million people.

Dagalo’s remarks, which were carried by Egypt’s official news agency Sunday, came at the end of two-day visit to Cairo where he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Sudan sits between Egypt and Ethiopia along the Nile’s route.

There has been public disagreement between Cairo and Addis Ababa after Ethiopia did not attend the latest round of talks over the dam on Feb. 26 in Washington. Ethiopia said it didn’t go because it needed further domestic consultations before signing a deal with Egypt.

The deadlock over the dam became increasingly bitter in recent weeks, with Egypt saying it would use “all available means” to defend “the interests” of its people.

Last week, Ethiopia’s top military officers visited the site of the dam and issued a statement vowing to “retaliate if there are any attacks on the dam,” a veiled warning to Egypt not to try to sabotage the structure.