Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday that Egypt’s share of Nile water was “a matter of life or death”, stressing that no one could touch the country’s share of the river.
His remarks were made in a televised appearance during the inauguration of the Middle East’s largest fish farm in Kafr El-Sheikh province Delta.
“The water of Egypt is not a subject for discussion, and I assure you, no one can touch Egypt’s water,” he said.
Sisi noted that talks were held with the Ethiopian and Sudanese sides on several issues, mainly Egypt’s water share of the Nile. He explained that nations were not built by thoughts, but by commitment and discipline.
Ethiopia is finalizing construction of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, known as the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), raising fears in Egypt that it would shrink its water supply.
Sisi’s remarks were the first by the Egyptian presidency since Cairo declared last Monday the failure to reach an agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan on the adoption of the preliminary report on the studies, submitted by the consulting firm entrusted with conducting the two studies on the effects of GERD on the downstream countries.
The president said Egypt informed Ethiopia that it did not have any reservations on development projects, as long as they did not affect Egypt’s water share, which is estimated at 55.5 billion cubic meters.
In March 2015, the leaders of the three countries signed an initial cooperation deal on the principles of sharing the Nile River water and the construction of the GERD, which will be Africa's largest dam upon completion.
However, the document did not explicitly stipulate that Addis Ababa be obliged to stop construction of the dam until the end of the specific studies on its possible damage.
Stressing that Nile’s water was a “matter of life or death”, Sisi called for rationing the use of water.