Egypt’s share of Nile water is a “a matter of life or death for the nation,” Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Saturday in his first comments on the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) since negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia stalled over the project last week.
In a televised talk during the inauguration of the Middle East’s largest fish farm in Kafr El-Sheikh, El-Sisi said that “no one can touch Egypt’s share of [Nile] water.”
“We’ve talked to our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia from the very beginning about three points, including not touching the water [of Egypt’s share],”he said.
The president added that he understands the developmental goals behind the GERD, but that development for Ethiopia in this case is a “matter of life and death” for Egypt.
El-Sisi added that Egyptians should “rest assured.”
Last week, negotiations between the three countries broke down over how to conduct studies determining the dam’s potential impact on downstream countries.
Next month, El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are scheduled to meet in Cairo to discuss the deadlock.
Egypt has previously expressed concern over repeated delays by Sudan and Ethiopia in approving the technical studies, especially given that construction on the dam is underway.
Construction on the dam – which is near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan and is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity – is slated for completion this year.
Ethiopia hopes it will be able to export electricity generated by the dam, which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
Egypt, however, has expressed concerns that the dam might reduce its share of Nile water.
Ethiopia maintains that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.