Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is set to meet on Monday with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, MENA agency reported.
El-Sisi will participate in the AU’s 28th General Assembly, themed “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth,” which kicked off in Addis Ababa on 22 January and will conclude on 31 January.
Last week the Egyptian president told attendees of a youth conference in Aswan that although Egyptians’ concerns about the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are legitimate, Egypt was dealing with the issue “in a good way” and in accordance with the agreements reached between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
He told the audience that Egypt takes the issue seriously, saying the issue of Egypt’s water supply is a matter of “life and death.”
He will also present a final report on the efforts conducted by Egypt during its two-year chairman of an African leaders; council on climate change, where he will then hand over the chairmanship to Gabon counterpart Ali Bongo Ondimba.
El-Sisi, who is expected to arrive to the Ethiopian capital on Sunday, will meet in Addis with his counterparts from Kenya and the Republic of the Congo to discuss methods of bolstering relations with the African countries in various fields, as well as other regional issues.
Speaking at last July’s presidential-level AU meeting, El-Sisi told his African counterparts that there was “no substitute” for adopting a model of regional integration in Africa.
Egyptian-Ethiopian relationship will witness ‘major push’
In statements to Egyptian journalists in Addis Ababa on Sunday, Egypt’s envoy to Ethiopia and the AU, Abu Bakr Hanafy, said that both countries were able to overcome the transient conflict in their relationship following accusations by Ethiopian officials that Egypt had supported anti-government demonstrations by the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia last summer.
Hanafy added that the trust built between the two countries since El-Sisi came into office helped “to overcome this crisis” through high level calls between the two countries away from the media.
Hanafy also discussed Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, saying that the dam’s consultancy operations were starting to comply with the technical aspects stipulated in the March 2015 declaration of principles which both countries, along with Sudan, have signed.
There were tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia in the last five years as the dam construction got underway, with Cairo expressing fears that the project could negatively affect Egypt’s water share. Addis Ababa maintains that the dam, which Ethiopia needs to generate electricity, will not harm downstream countries.
In 2015, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed a declarations of principles in Khartoum on the the dam project, in which the three nations resolved to take all measures to avoid causing damage to the others when using the Blue Nile, and to discuss compensation measures if such damages occur.
Last September in Khartoum, the three countries signed contract with the French engineering consultancy Artelia and BRL groups to study the impacts of the GERD on the downriver states
Hanafy said that Egypt has sensed “positive consent” from the Ethiopian side, adding that the issue of the dam has resolutions that fall under the framework of respecting Ethiopian sovereignty and Egypt’s share of Nile water, respectively.
He predicted that Egyptian-Ethiopian relations will witness a major push in the upcoming period especially with Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal being non-permanent members representing the African continent on the UN’s Security Council.