The drums of war are beating again in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. But this confrontation doesn’t concern Syria, Somalia, Israel or the Palestinians. The adversaries are Egypt and Ethiopia. The flashpoint is the waters of the Nile.
As part of the construction of its Grand Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia began partially diverting the course of the Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile in Sudan before flowing on to Egypt, in late May. For Ethiopia, the 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance project — the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa — promises power for the 83 percent of the population lacking access to electricity, as well as energy for export.
For Egypt, though, the dam raises an existential alarm. Egypt receives almost no rainfall. It depends on the Nile for 97 percent of its renewable water resources. The Nile, in turn, depends on Ethiopia. More than four-fifths of the water in the river first falls as rain in the Ethiopian highlands.
To read the full op-ed, click here.
This op-ed first appeared in the International Business Times on June 26, 2013.
Photo by CT Snow via Wikimedia Commons