After the umpteenth failure of negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has led to fears of military clashes, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde is not discouraged. She still intends to play on the diplomatic strings for the resolution of the problem. On Wednesday, the Ethiopian leader was visiting Niger.
The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde, paid a working and friendship visit to Niger on Wednesday. Welcomed by the Prime Minister, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, Sahle-Work Zewde was then received at the Presidency Palace by her Nigerien counterpart, Mohamed Bazoum.
The two personalities discussed bilateral cooperation issues, and the Ethiopian expressed, orally, her congratulations to the Nigerien for his recent election and especially for the example that his country has given to the continent in terms of peaceful transfer of power. But at the heart of the visit of the Ethiopian leader, there is the issue of the Renaissance Dam, a pharaonic project initiated by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile to solve its electricity problems.
Begun in 2011, the project to build this gigantic dam, which is supposed to eventually produce about 6,500 megawatts to provide electricity to the 110 million Ethiopians, and even beyond that, for electricity exports, is a source of great tension between Ethiopia and two other riparian countries and beneficiaries of the Nile’s waters: Egypt and Sudan. Several negotiations have already been unsuccessful, raising fears of military confrontation between Ethiopia and its neighbours. The latest attempt at conciliation led by the current Chairperson of the African Union, the Congolese Félix Tshisekedi, in Kinshasa from 4 to 6 April 2021 did not fare any differently from all previous actions.
The Ethiopian President’s move is aimed at soliciting the support of Niger, one of the three African countries that are non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, to throw its weight behind a peaceful settlement of this long-running and increasingly worrying dispute. « As a convinced pan-Africanist, I think it is important to have this kind of exchange between the two countries, because there is no distance between us. We are all one people, » said Sahle-Work Zewde.