Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated on Tuesday his country’s determination to preserve its water rights, stressing that it will not allow its interests to be violated.
Cairo is determined to reach a “legal” and “fair” agreement over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), he stated during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Sisi was in the French capital to participate, along with African leaders and chiefs of global financial institutions, in twin summit meetings that will seek to help Sudan into a new democratic era and provide Africa with critical financing swept away by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During his bilateral meetings, Sisi said he was keen to address the dispute with Addis Ababa over the GERD.
According to presidential spokesman Bassam Rady, Sisi highlighted Egypt’s keenness to consolidate and deepen the extended strategic partnership with France, as an “important pillar to preserve security and stability in the Middle East region.”
The president said he looks forward to maximize bilateral coordination and consultations on various regional issues, as well as security and military cooperation, in light of the great regional challenges, Rady added.
Sisi also met with head of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, during which they agreed on the utmost importance of the water issue and considered GERD “a matter of national security.”
Addis Ababa has been building the dam on the main tributary of the Nile since 2011, and its Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy announced the completion of about 78 percent of the construction so far.
It announced in 2020 that it had completed the first phase of filling the dam, achieving its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters, which allowed the testing of the first two turbines of the dam. This year, it is targeting filling an additional 13.5 billion cubic meters.
The dam is expected to become the largest hydroelectric power station in Africa, with an expected capacity of 6,500 megawatts, to meet the needs of Ethiopia’s 110 million people.
The two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, however, insist on reaching a legally binding agreement that preserves their water rights and averts further tensions and instability in the region.