On Monday, February 7, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hosted Djibouti’s President, Ismail Omar Guelleh. The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, which is now under development on the Nile River, was discussed by the heads of state.
It was part of Egypt’s efforts to strengthen African ties in the midst of a water conflict with Ethiopia. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Ismail Omar Guelleh discussed the contentious dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s primary tributary during their talks in Cairo. The dam is considered an “existential threat” by Egypt. He said that his government wants a “legally binding agreement” on how the canal should be filled and how it should be used, according to international law and Security Council decisions, at a joint press conference.
Guelleh said he and his Egyptian colleague talked about improving cooperation “on all levels” between their two countries. “We discussed our perspectives and points of view on a variety of topics and matters of common interest, and we also agreed on the significance of pushing the two countries’ relationship to new heights,” he added. Guelleh’s visit to Cairo comes nearly eight months after El-visit Sissi’s to the strategically important Horn of Africa country. El-Sissi was the first Egyptian president to visit Djibouti since the country gained independence in 1977.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has been under construction since 2011, is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity once completed. The enormous reservoir is estimated to be worth 4.6 billion US dollars. Ethiopia claimed in July that the second step of filling the dam’s reservoir had been completed successfully, escalating tensions with Khartoum and Cairo. Egypt and Sudan are concerned that the Ethiopian reservoir may have an impact on their water supplies, particularly during droughts. The dam dispute talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have stopped, and international and regional efforts to restart the talks have failed due to unrest in Ethiopia’s Tigray area.