KAMPALA, 11 April 2021 – Uganda and Egypt have agreed to share intelligence as tensions escalate over the upcoming filling and long-term management of Ethiopia’s mega-dam on the Nile River.
Uganda’s army said the deal was reached Wednesday between senior military officials from both countries.
“The fact that Uganda and Egypt share the Nile, co-operation between the two countries is inevitable because what affects Ugandans will in one way or another affect Egypt,” the statement said, citing the head of the Egyptian delegation, Major General Sameh Saber El-Degwi.
Several rounds of talks to reach an agreement on how to manage the waters of the Nile River as Ethiopia plans to proceed with the next phase of the filling of the dam reservoir have failed so far.
Three-way talks, brokered by the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, collapsed on Tuesday.
Tensions have risen as Ethiopia threatens to proceed with or without an agreement with Nile downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.
Last year, former American President Donald Trump went so far as to suggest that if Ethiopia did not reach a deal, Egypt might blow up the $4 billion dollar mega-dam.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been under construction since 2011. Ethiopia proceeded with a first phase filling of the dam reservoir (which now holds over 4.9 billion cubic meters of water) without reaching a binding legal agreement with Egypt and Sudan.
At completion and fully filled, the dam reservoir will hold 74 billion cubic meters of water and will become Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant when it goes fully operational.
Egypt has long been totally opposed to any dams being built on the Nile upstream, explaining that any reduction of the amount of water Egypt gets from the river and relies on for over 90 percent of its water needs constitutes a security and existential threat.
The dam is built on the Blue Nile tributary which originates from Ethiopia.
Uganda is the source of the other tributary – the White Nile.
Both Nile tributaries converge in Sudan whose officials seek a say in the management of the mega-dam to ensure that it helps mitigate seasonal flooding in Sudan and would not starve Sudan of water during periods of drought.