GITEGA, 2 April 2021 – The president of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have agreed to intensify coordination about the Ethiopian mega dam.
Observers say it is one more move by Egypt to gain support for its position in the controversy with Ethiopia over the filling of its mega dam on the Nile.
Ethiopia has threatened to proceed with a second phase filling of the reservoir with or without reaching an agreement with downstream countries – Sudan and Egypt.
This is one of a number of Egyptian moves to gain yhe support of more African countries in the dam crisis, said Ayman Samir, an international relations researcher at Al-Ahram newspaper.
Last March 22, Egyptian Foreign Minister hosted Abdel-Razzaq and Somali presidential official Hassan Moallem Khalif to discuss political developments in the African region and ways to boost stability, peace and security.
The Egyptian foreign ministry also hosted Zuhair Dhul-Kamal, the foreign minister of the Comoros, last March 4.
The Egyptian president has also met with his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, to discuss developments related to the dam and the security of the Red Sea, according to one of his spokespersons, Bassam Radi.
Egypt has managed to politically and diplomatically pressure Ethiopia by communicating with its neighbors and with various African countries to explain why Cairo’s stance on the dam is justified, Samir told The Monitor newspaper.
The outreach to other African countries is in addition to Egypt’s cooperation with Sudan in unifying their visions as far as the dam is concerned.
Last March 6, Sis visited Khartoum and the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visited Cairon on March 11 with spokespersons for both leaders telling journalists that the two leaders discussed their “common position” concerning the mega dam.
Located in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile River, about 40km east of Sudan, the dam is formerly known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) or the Millennium Dam.
Construction on the $4.7 billion GERD started in April 2011 after the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract was awarded to Salini Costruttori.
Egypt depends on the Nile for 90 percent of its water needs and the north African country fears that filling the dam without care for the needs of downstream countries would hurt its economy and national security.
Sudan hopes that management of the dam would yield substantial benefits in flood and drought management in Sudan.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite committee in January 2012 to promote understanding and look into the benefits and impacts the project would have on the three countries.