The Grand Renaissance Dam and prospects for cooperation on the Eastern Nile
The escalation of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over the construction of the Grand Renaissance is at least partly based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the risks this dam poses to Egypt. There is a two-part, win–win deal that can defuse tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia. First, Ethiopia needs to agree with Egypt and Sudan on rules for filling the Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD) reservoir and on operating rules during periods of drought. Second, Egypt needs to acknowledge that Ethiopia has a right to develop its water resources infrastructure for the benefit of its people based on the principle of equitable use, and agree not to block the power trade agreements that Ethiopia needs with Sudan to make the GRD financially viable. Sudan has a big stake in Egyptian–Ethiopian reconciliation over the use of the Nile. Although Sudan's agricultural and hydropower interests now align with those of Ethiopia, there does not seem to be a formal agreement between Ethiopia and Sudan for the sale of hydropower from the GRD. Because the economic feasibility of the GRD and other Ethiopian hydropower projects will depend on such agreements, Sudan has leverage with both Ethiopia and Egypt to encourage this win–win deal.