Ethiopia has been having trouble finding finance for its Renaissance Dam. The technologically hazardous and politically incendiary project has failed to whet the appetites of investors though this did not seem to bother the Ethiopian delegation to recent talks.
Instead of admitting that the whole idea is unfeasible the Ethiopians harangued the Egyptian delegation, claiming that Egypt was wasteful with water, had no right to its full water quota, and should not be channelling water to Sinai or Toshka. The Egyptian delegation sat sheepishly through the meeting.
The Ethiopians claimed they have no intention of building the dam “on the dead bodies of Egyptians”, a meaningless assertion. The fact is they cannot find finance for the dam because — politics aside — the project doesn’t make economic or ecological sense.
The meeting began with the Ethiopians demanding an apology for the ridiculous — and unfortunately televised — meeting between ousted president Morsi and party chiefs. The Egyptian delegation duly complied though if anyone should be offering apologies it is the Ethiopians, and for a number of reasons.
The Ethiopians pressed on, accusing the Egyptians of racism and arguing that Egypt is stealing their water. One even made the fantastical claim that Ethiopia was getting only three per cent of its water resources.
According to an official report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released in December 2012, Ethiopia’s rivers are fed with 122 billion cubic metres of water annually. Of this amount, about 71 billion cubic metres flows downstream via the Blue Nile, Atbarah and Sobat.
Ethiopians left with 51 billion cubic metres — about as much as Egypt receives. I have no idea where the three per cent notion came from.