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The Nile Water Treaties are Hampering Progress on Building the Grand Dam Project

Disputes over the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have, once again, threatened security in North-East Africa. Diplomatic spats between Addis Ababa and Cairo are not new. Since the early 1990s, the two countries have held various talks on the Nile but these usually end in a stalemate and the threat of military recourse by Egypt. During the scramble for Africa, controlling the source of the Nile was a major colonial goal for the British. Various agreements – including the Nile Treaties – where established to do this. The Nile Water Treaties were agreements between the British (on behalf of its colonies, Sudan, Kenyan, Tanzania and Uganda) and Egypt. They effectively prevent upstream countries from using the Nile’s water without the consent of those downstream. This resulted in a strong Egyptian bias and Egypt continues to try to enforce the treaties today.