UN Security Council to hear objections to Ethiopian dam project

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to discuss the breakdown of talks over a decade-long dispute between Ethiopia,

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Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to discuss the breakdown of talks over a decade-long dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the fate of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River.

Discussions broke down on June 13 as Ethiopia announced its intention to proceed with filling the dam with water in July over Egyptian and Sudanese objections. Ethiopia’s downstream neighbours fear a faster pace of filling will mean less water will be available to them in low rain seasons. This is especially the case for Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 97% of its water use. Ethiopia has announced an agreement is likely “in two weeks” after an urgent June 27 African Union online summit, but no firm details have been released.

The UNSC will likely welcome any African Union-brokered deal. On the UNSC, China—which has given $16 billion in loans to Ethiopia— has the most at stake in the dam’s filling. Beijing will rely on the electricity generated by the dam to power a future Chinese-funded $1.7 billion railway line linking Ethiopia’s interior to ports in neighbouring Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia is likely to proceed with dam filling, regardless of whether a deal is reached in two weeks, and Beijing will most likely support its decision at the UN.

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