“Seeking the help of the World Bank falls within the scope of a diplomatic campaign initiated by Cairo,” an Egyptian official in charge of the Nile water issue told Al-Monitor

By Ayah Aman (Al-Monitor) |

CAIRO―Egypt is awaiting Ethiopian and Sudanese reaction to its proposal that the World Bank mediate negotiations on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egypt wants the World Bank to serve as a neutral party in the country’s lengthy but fruitless negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan over the dam’s construction. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry proposed the idea during a Dec. 26 meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart in the latter country’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Cairo fears the upstream dam at the head of the Blue Nile will interfere with its critical water supply from the Nile River. Ethiopia wants water to satisfy its need for electricity. Sudan, which wants more water for agricultural purposes, stands to benefit from the dam and has sided with Ethiopia on most issues.

The negotiations are stalled, but construction is humming right along. Ethiopia has already completed more than 60% of the $4.8 billion mega dam, despite disputes over its environmental impact and basic technical issues — topics that ideally are resolved before construction begins on such projects. Frustrated with the lack of progress despite years of debate, Egypt pulled out of the tripartite negotiations in November.

Now, by recommending the World Bank as a fourth impartial party, Egypt seems to be putting on the table a possible diplomatic solution to the dispute. It also would create a wider audience for Egypt’s grievances and perhaps pressure Ethiopia and Sudan.

“Seeking the help of the World Bank falls within the scope of a diplomatic campaign initiated by Cairo,” an Egyptian official in charge of the Nile water issue told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “This would allow Egypt to expose the stalled negotiations and disclose Egyptian concerns before the international community. The participation of World Bank experts in the negotiations will add transparency and unveil any attempts by Ethiopia or Sudan to derail the GERD impact studies.”

Continue reading this story at Al-Monitor
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