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Egypt's Sisi issues warning to Ethiopia over dam construction project

Sisi issued a stern warning to Ethiopia over a dam it is building. [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2017

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Sisi issued a stern warning to Ethiopia on Saturday over a dam it is building after the two countries and Sudan failed to approve a study on its potential effects.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a stern warning to Ethiopia on Saturday over a dam it is building, which could limit water supplies to Cairo.

It comes after Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan failed to approve a study on its potential effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Addis Ababa's plan will be the first major dam on the Blue Nile, which will eventually start filling the giant reservoir behind it to power Africa's largest hydroelectric dam.

Egypt fears the construction will cut into its water supply and destroy precious farmland. Dam construction on international rivers often lead to disputes over the downstream impact.

Cairo said last week that the three countries had failed to approve an initial study by a consultancy firm on the dam's potential effects on Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia says the dam is essential to its development and has repeatedly sought to reassure Egypt.

But Cairo's efforts to persuade Addis Ababa to engage in closer coordination over the dam appear to have made little headway.

"No one can touch Egypt's share of water," Sisi said in televised comments while attending the inauguration of a fish farm in the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheikh.

"We view positively the developmental needs of our friends and brothers in Ethiopia," he said.

"We are capable of protecting our national security and water to us is a question of national security. Full stop."

The Egyptian government has publicly ruled out military action but in recent months officials have escalated their rhetoric.

Earlier in November Sisi issued a similar warning to Ethiopia during a news conference at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Nile provides over 90 percent of Egypt's water supply.

It already receives the lion's share of Nile waters - more than 55 billion of the around 88 billion cubic meters of water that flow down the river each year.

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