The Nile River is a major influence on the economies it encompasses, and in the past it has been controversial how the energy, space, and water is allocated amongst the countries it passes through. Ethiopia is constructing a massive dam costing billions of dollars on the Blue Nile, which will distort the previous allocation of water agreed by the countries surrounding the river. Most of the disagreement in the initial stages of project development stemmed from this allocation dispute, but the presidents of Egypt and Sudan, as well as the Ethiopian Prime Minister, all recently signed a contract pledging to better share the water and resources of the Nile. On Monday, Egypt agreed to a preliminary deal with Ethiopia on the construction of the dam.
Ethiopia’s need for the project comes with the country’s major lack of electricity. However, scientists predict that the project will disrupt the flow of water into Egypt. Egypt currently receives much of its water from the Nile, and the river also fuels its hydroelectric project that supplies electricity to the country. Sudan has been acting as the “middle-man” in this whole process, and all countries have said that the project will not be moved along unless it is beneficial to Ethiopian development without harming Egypt or Sudan.
Sudan and Egypt have had access to 90% of the water from the Nile River since an agreement was signed by the United Kingdom in 1929. However, the tributaries of the Blue Nile flowing through Ethiopia and the White Nile flowing through Uganda provide water and resources to more than one hundred million people in eleven countries. Many other African nations have also been lobbying for a restructuring of the allocation of the Nile’s waters.