Egypt's Sisi calls for 'abiding deal' with Ethiopia on Renaissance Dam
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi expressed on Sunday Egypt's keenness to reach a "biding, balanced agreement [...] without further delay" with Ethiopia, possibly ending a long-lasting dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
According to Sisi, such an agreement would help secure the Ethiopian development and economic goals, while limiting any water, environmental, social, and economic harms inflicted on downstream states, Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopia has frequently refused to enter into an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. Instead, it insisted only on guidelines that can be adjusted at its disposal.
In September, the United Nations Security Council adopted a presidential statement encouraging Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia "to resume negotiations" to swiftly reach a jointly acceptable and binding agreement on filling and operating the dam.
Cairo and Khartoum resorted to the UNSC after Ethiopia unilaterally completed the first and second filling of its controversial dam, despite the absence of abiding deal.
According to Sisi, Egypt has already been undergoing a water shortage.
"The annual share of water per capita does not exceed 650 m3 [while] the yearly international threshold for water poverty allocated by the United Nations is 1,000 m3 per capita," he argued.
Sisi said that Cairo has drawn up a four-pronged strategy to manage its water resources through 2037 at an initial cost of up to $50 billion.
"The strategy aims to rationalise water usage, purify resources of water, provide additional water resources via establishing water treatment plants, and create a climate suitable for optimal water management," he noted.
Sisi seems to have changed his rhetoric after taking a harder line against Addis Ababa.
In his previous speeches, mostly unprepared and improvised, he recurrently hinted at going to war with Ethiopia, saying water was a "red line" for Egypt and vital for national security.
In another speech, Sisi said that if the African country started with the second filling of the dam, this act would have an impact on the whole region. However, Ethiopia had already filled the dam for the second time and no war has so far erupted.