Liar Poker on the Nile


Posted yesterday at 1:35 pm, updated yesterday at 4:30 pm

It’s just a virtual tension, a war of words, a series of poker moves and furious air shuffles. But it has been going on for so long. And, despite the mediations, the tipping point has never seemed so close: between Ethiopia and Egypt, it would only take one incident, one stupidity, one exaggeration of too many, for it to be unleashed a conflict over the control of the Nile waters. Upstream, in the form of raindrops, the water has started to fall in abundance since June on the mountain range of western Ethiopia, as every year during the long rainy season which lasts until September. This considerable flow will feed the river, which has eleven neighboring countries, but only one of which literally and symbolically associates it with its survival: Egypt. The states most affected by the main course of the Nile – Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan – must find an agreement to share this resource. An agreement hoped for decades, the absence of which – or failure – becomes explosive.

The stake of the conflict, or its solution, is this block of concrete, still unfinished, 1,780 meters long and 155 meters high (for the main dam), which is being built in western Ethiopia, on the Abay River (Blue Nile). The Nile, the largest river in the world with the Amazon, draws its waters from a gigantic watershed, covering 2.9 million square kilometers, or one tenth of the area of ​​Africa, a populated area of ​​238 million of people. It is now their future that is at stake. A fruitful cooperation on the management of this resource would make it possible to electrify, irrigate and support the transformation of this part of the continent, which will perhaps count 600 million inhabitants in 2050. This requires an agreement accepted by all the parties as soon as possible.

The construction of the great Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile near the village of Guba, Ethiopia, in December 2019.

Sesame for the future

For the first time, in early July, Ethiopia announced that it would retain part of the Blue Nile which rises on its soil, and constitutes the bulk of the flow of the river downstream when its waters join those of the White Nile. in Khartoum, Sudan, before continuing towards the Mediterranean crossing Egypt. This contribution is intended for the impoundment of the great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), this giant structure whose construction began almost ten years ago has become the subject of Ethiopian-Egyptian litigation. GERD is Ethiopia’s key to the future. Egypt, whose water needs depend entirely on the river, sees it rather as a tap on which it wishes to keep control. As for Sudan, it trembles. The Sudanese dam at Roseires, renovated in 2013, is also located on the Blue Nile, a few dozen kilometers downstream from the GERD. It contains only one tenth of what will be the final volume of its neighbor’s work. However, the GERD secondary dam spillway leads directly to the Sudanese reservoir. In case of technical problem, will Sudan be flooded? Or, on the contrary, will it be able to rely on the energy produced by the large African dam to develop and expand its irrigation projects?

You have 83.97% of this article to read. The suite is reserved for subscribers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here