CAIRO: Egypt must preserve its water rights by reaching a binding legal agreement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that includes Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said.
During a phone conversation with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, El-Sisi made the comments while referring to the development of the dam, which is taking place under the auspices of the African Union, headed by South Africa.
Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency Bassam Rady said that the Egyptian leader received a call from the South African president.
He said El-Sisi confirmed Egypt’s position on formulating a binding legal agreement that preserves Egyptian water rights and includes the three countries. The agreement should define the rules for filling and operating the dam, as the Nile waters represent an “existential issue” for Egypt and its people, he added.
Ramaphosa praised Egypt’s efforts to reach a solution on the issue.
He also called for coordination during the coming period to work on reaching a fair and balanced agreement.
The Sudanese government announced in mid-December an agreement with Ethiopia to resume negotiations on the disputed dam. It came after Khartoum boycotted negotiation sessions, labeling them an “old approach” that “would not work.” Sudan called for a greater role for experts to contribute to resolving the crisis.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan resumed talks headed by the water ministers of the three countries early last month when Sudan took over organization of the meeting.
Ethiopia began construction of the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in 2011, but Egypt fears it will affect its share of water, which amounts to 55.5 billion cubic meters annually, most of it from the Blue Nile.
Despite the signing of a declaration of principles between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in March 2015 which encouraged dialogue and negotiation, an agreement on the dam has yet to be reached.