NAIROBI, KENYA – Amid rising tension between Ethiopia and Egypt, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has said that conflict is not the best and only answer to resolving the long-running dispute over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the River Nile.
The Egyptian leader made these remarks while responding to the October’s remarks by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who said no force could stop the $5bn (£3.8bn) dam being built.
Speaking to media groups and reporters in Sharm el-sheik, President Sisi said the focus should be on reaching an amicable solution next month during US-mediated talks set to be held in Washington.
“We don’t want to boast about our own might. But are you going to recruit a million people, or are you going to build the dam?” Mr. Sisi said.
“Our resources shouldn’t be wasted in conflict and wars which cost millions. Use that money for the development of people and our countries instead,” he added.
Key cabinet ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan are scheduled to meet next month in the US for the final round of talks to end the dispute.
According to sources, the technical teams comprising officials from all sides have already met three times following the intervention of US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in November.
At the heart of the brawling dispute is the time frame to fill up the dam, which started in 2011.
The Ethiopian government wants to complete the process within the shortest time possible, but Egypt the other stakeholder wants a longer time frame on the ground that the project will empower Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river.
According to sources, Egypt relies on the Nile for 85% of its water, both for consumption and industrial purposes.