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Egypt appears to be like to Congo for breakthrough on Nile Dam talks

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Feb 7, 2021

CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi mentioned along with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi the faltering negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) throughout Tshisekedi’s first go to to Cairo on Feb. 2, because the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prepares to take over the presidency of the African Union for 2021.

According to a press release by the Egyptian presidency following the assembly, the 2 officers “agreed to promote coordination and joint deliberations to follow up on the developments in the GERD file.”

In a joint press convention with Sisi, Tshisekedi stated following their assembly on Feb. 2 that he would work towards reaching a answer for the GERD disaster throughout his nation’s chairmanship of the AU. He expressed optimism that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan would reach an answer to entrench peaceable coexistence between them.

Tshisekedi stated he knowledgeable Sisi that he not too long ago welcomed Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and the Sudanese ministers of irrigation and international affairs in Kinshasa on separate events. He mentioned water and the GERD with them and reiterated his full dedication to avoiding an escalation of tensions between the international locations throughout his chairmanship of the AU.

The tripartite negotiations on the GERD are nonetheless faltering and the final spherical of AU-sponsored talks happened on Jan. 10 with out attaining any progress towards reaching a binding settlement on the filling and operation of the GERD.

Egyptian analysts and consultants who spoke to Al-Monitor imagine the AU underneath the DRC’s chairmanship will coordinate between the three events to resolve the disaster. Despite the DRC’s statements in assist of Egypt, it can not facet with Egypt alone within the GERD negotiations, and it’s finally as much as the three international locations to have interaction in severe negotiations and present flexibility, they stated.

Former Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohammad Nasreddin Allam informed Al-Monitor over the telephone, “The DRC’s contribution to the GERD crisis depends on Ethiopia’s behavior. If Ethiopia cooperates, the task will be easier. The AU is coordinating between the different parties to reach a solution. If there is stalling, nothing will change, just like no significant accomplishments were made during the year of South Africa’s mandate.”

Allam added, “It isn’t an easy task and Ethiopia must realize that the ongoing negotiations under the AU’s wing are the last chance to negotiate under African auspices.” If the AU-sponsored talks fail again, he said, “there will be other options to resort to international [parties].”

In September,  Sisi acquired a letter from Tshisekedi, who voiced “the DRC’s support for the Egyptian terms for dealing with the GERD crisis.” Although the DRC beforehand voiced its assist for Egypt within the GERD challenge, Allam stated it “cannot support one country in the conflict at the expense of the others. The Congolese president asserted this by noting the need to work toward a solution that would achieve the interests of all parties.”

Abbas Sharaqi, director of the Natural Resources Department on the Institute of African Studies and Research on the University of Cairo, informed Al-Monitor that relations between Egypt and the DRC are “among Egypt’s best relations with the Nile Basin countries.”

He added, “These relations are not limited to the GERD issue. There is extensive cooperation in other fields between the two countries, most recently reflected in the visit of an Egyptian military convoy to the DRC on Sept. 30 as part of the project to make the Congo River navigable.”

Sharaqi added, “There are other agreements between Egypt [and the DRC] to implement projects in the areas of electricity and infrastructure” and talks of nonetheless different tasks.

Meanwhile, Egypt is contemplating participating within the development and setup of the Inga Dam on the Congo River. A supply within the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity informed Al-Monitor, “An agreement on the participation [of Egypt] in the Inga Dam project is underway. Several private Egyptian companies would implement [the project] on the ground under the supervision of the ministry to ensure high quality implementation, as per the agreement being discussed.”

During his press convention with Sisi on Feb. 2, Tshisekedi stated he was wanting ahead to establishing a new administrative capital in his nation, related to the brand new administrative capital in Egypt, due to the massive inhabitants development in Kinshasa, some of the populated cities within the area.

Hiba al-Bashbishi, a researcher on the Institute for African Research and Studies on the University of Cairo, informed Al-Monitor, “The DRC can hold separate negotiation sessions with the three countries, then give the conclusion to the AU Commission with its final perception of the solution to the crisis. The Congolese president has taken serious steps in that regard.”

She added, “South Africa’s role in the GERD file did not live up to expectations and we did not reach an agreement despite months of negotiations under its auspices. All eyes are on the strong role that the DRC will play to resolve this crisis after it takes the helm of the AU.”

Khaled Akasha, director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, stated in statements to Sada al-Balad Feb. 2, “The DRC’s chairmanship of the AU gives a positive [push] on the GERD issue, because it is totally informed of the details of the dossier and points out the risks and threats about which Egypt and Sudan have reservations. It can untie some knots in this file and move it forward or announce clear stances.”

Sharaqi, nonetheless, stated, “I am not betting much on the role of the AU because it does not have leverage mechanisms in Africa. But Egypt has taken this recent path suggested by the AU under South African auspices to prove its good intentions. Ultimately, Egypt wants to reach a binding agreement in the GERD in any way possible.”

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