Kenya has walked into the ongoing conflict between Ethiopia and its neighbours Egypt and Sudan over rights to use the water in the Blue Nile- Africa’s longest river.
After Addis Ababa walked out of talks with Cairo over its mistrust of Washington, Egypt is now seeking for mediation from Kenya.
Diplomatic sources revealed that while on a stopover from France, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to work closely with President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt on the issue of the US$4.8 Billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) currently under construction on the Blue Nile.
While the United States has tried to play the role of a mediator this dispute, a proposal by the Trump administration to cut Ethiopia’s aid budget by US$130 Million, infuriated Addis Ababa, forcing it to walk out of talks.
Since the dam’s construction nine years ago, the project has been a flashpoint in the region.
While GERD will provide Ethiopia with clean, cheap and abundant energy, failure to fill up the dam will deprive 65 Million Ethiopians of substantial energy potential, condemning them to inadequate living standards and a sluggish economy.
To put up a dam on a river that provides 90% of Egypt’s freshwater, will deepen that country’s perilous water crisis.
In recent years, Egypt’s persistent water deficit has strained its agricultural industry and worsened living standards in many parts of Egypt.
Sudan relies on the Nile for cheap energy, with flood regulation benefits being attractive.
A possible water shortage is too significant to overlook. Khartoum has thus weighed in on the side of its downstream partner, Cairo.
By cutting aid to Ethiopia, Washington appears to be pressuring it to accept Egypt’s demands: to slow the dam’s filling and sign up for deferential water-sharing quotas.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has begun filling the dam in a hurry, threatening to mobilize “millions” of people if Egypt gets in the way.
The Egyptians, in turn, have been launching cyber strikes against Ethiopia and sending mock warnings.
Kenya has shown its preference to the African Union(AU) as a more honest negotiator with no vested interests.
Ethiopia says this mega-dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens and help them out of poverty. The dam project is set to make the country a major power exporter