The questionable Ethiopian diplomacy around the GERD

Updated: Mar 21

Tensions around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are once again rising. Even with the interference of the United States to put an end for this case, it still sounds a bit agonising. The GERD is an investment that costs over £3 billion, it is built on the Blue Nile River and has been under construction since 2011. During that time Egypt, a nation that relies on the Nile River for 90% of its freshwater, was undergoing one of the most remarkable revolutions that overthrew Hosni Mubarak after 30 years of presidency. The construction of the GERD during the revolution without Egypt’s participation in the agreements held was described by the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry as “illegal and contradicted the international law”.

After five years of negotiations, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in 2019 agreed to sponsor the case and get the United States Department of Treasury as well as the World Bank involved to reach an agreement for this diplomatic crisis. After almost settling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam deal with Egypt and Sudan, an unexpected no show from the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Irrigation and Energy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was remarked during the finalisation of the deal that was held in Washington in 27-28 of February. The Ethiopian tone changed towards the agreement set by the United States with aversion and antipathy, as stated by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gedu Andargachew “The statement issued by US Treasury on GERD is unacceptable & highly partisan and that Ethiopia as the possessor of the GERD will begin first filling of the GERD in parallel with the building of the Dam.”

On the other hand, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry responded in an interview stated: “Ethiopia cannot start filling the dam under any circumstances”. The Foreign minister’s statement was followed by a call from the president of the United States to the Egyptian president. President Trump assured President Sisi that the Ethiopian rejection to the agreement should not be a threat as well as expressing hope to the case to benefit both nations Egypt and Sudan, the United States reaffirms its neutral position until the three countries reach an end for this historic conflict.

The sudden change towards the GERD agreement was not the only impulsive action made by the Ethiopian government, the intransigence in its global affairs as a developing nation is fretting. Ethiopia, as a developing country needs to comprehend more in the integrities of diplomatic discussions and agreements. The impact from the lengthy discussions has already affected the Egyptian soil, with the Egyptian government declaring a national state of emergency, increasing fines for wasted water and reduce the cultivation of agricultural products.

It is clear that Ethiopia is trying to build the dam for its people to witness their lives and country flourish, but politically there must be an enhanced way of diplomacy towards this divergence for both nations Egypt and Ethiopia in order not to confront a counterproductive disaster from building the dam. It is, unfortunately, hassling to see the GERD agreement and negotiations unclear, but it is clear that both nations, Egypt and Ethiopia, are competing in economic growth. Particularly with Egypt’s 2030 plans in achieving economic and social justice. The GERD case is still just a rivalry of diplomatic statements, but the people of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are looking more into an action that will help their nations blossom socially and economically. It is concerning and problematic to witness Ethiopian official’s drift concerning this vital dilemma. Their diplomacy remains questionable predominantly with their change of view towards the sponsorship as seeing it as unfair and bias to Egypt.


The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020