The White House statement: “All Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development and prosperity”

The White House statement encourages equitable use of the Nile River and good faith approach in the negotiation over the Ethiopian Dam.Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are undertaking a ministerial level talk in the Sudanese capital Khartoum

The White House _ Ethiopian Dam _ Nile _ Egypt _ Sudan
The White House

The Press Secretary of The White House has issued a statement on Thursday this week regarding the Nile Valley and the Ethiopian Dam.

The statement outlines the United States’ position in relation to the use of the longest international river in the world, Nile, which passes through nine countries.

It stated that “The United States supports Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a cooperative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

The statement “mutually beneficial agreement” seems to be in a collision course with the Egyptian claim of “historical right” over the Nile – a claim which is informed by colonial-era agreement to which Ethiopia is not a party.

The White House statement was in fact unequivocal and straightforward when it comes to the rights of riparian countries in terms of benefiting from the international river: “All Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development and prosperity.”

And the United States’ government is encouraging parties to the ongoing tripartite talk over the filling and operating of the Ethiopian Dam to reach an agreement in a way that preserves the rights of all riparian countries to benefit from the river, and in a way that is in line with the principle of equity:

“The Administration calls on all sides to put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement that preserves those rights, while simultaneously respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”

Ministerial-level of the tripartite talk in Cairo in mid-September was stalled as Ethiopia found Egyptian proposal in the filling and operation of the Nile Dam unacceptable on grounds of principles of fairness and Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

Among Egyptian proposals were:

1) Egyptian to deploy Egyptian Engineers to monitor the construction of Ethiopian Dam construction which Ethiopia sees as a violation of its sovereignty

2)  The Dam to release 40 billion cubic meters of water annually. Ethiopia maintains the position that only 29 to 35 billion cubic meters of water could be released annually

3) Egypt also wants to maintain the Aswan Dam height at 165 meters. 

The statement from the United States came at a time when water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan are meeting in the Sudanese capital.

Sudan and Ethiopia are expected to present their responses to the Egyptian proposals. Experts from the three countries met in Khartoum and the outcomes of their meetings are meant to be presented to the water ministers from the three countries.

Over 80 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia, and Ethiopia has reiterated its position for equitable use of the Nile water.

When the dam is completed and reaches a stage of power generation, which is expected to be over 6000 MW, the intention on the part of Ethiopia is to export a portion of the electric power to Sudan. So far Sudan seems to be on the same page with Ethiopia.

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