Name? Abiy Ahmed
Westphalian identity? Ethiopian
Why is he in the news? Have you ever heard about the Renaissance Dam? No, us neither until this morning painfully showed us once again how little we know about International Relations in Africa. Ethiopia wants to build a massive dam to use the Nile’s water for its energy production, potentially powering the ⅔ of households in the country with no access to electricity. This 5 billion dollar project started back in 2010 and has caused conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia since. Because, surprise, Egypt relies on the Nile for 90% of its water supplies, nourishing 98 million people.
Why do we care? This project will influence the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the area. And it all depends on diplomats and analysts to complete the project without millions of people suffering or potentially even armed conflict breaking out. No pressure, but good governance and diplomacy will determine the future of these countries.
Why should you care? Because it’s not Covid for once and it does not hurt to learn about the world outside your bubble. If you are really interested in this topic, Al Jazeera made a wonderful, visual and informative report about this.
Who else cares? Sudan, the country trapped in the middle of this conflict with its own interest on the line. Every year, Sudan suffers from floods from the Nile, taking a hit to their agricultural sector. With a dam in place, the waters could be controlled more easily and damage could be avoided. Furthermore, the dam could serve as a cheap source of energy for Sudan, boosting their development.
Any further comments? The analysts have worked out five different scenarios for how to fill up the dam and it is upon the diplomats to decide which one will come into protocol. Scenario one takes 3 years to fill the dam but would result in a 67% loss of Egypt’s agricultural production, while scenario five takes 21 years and only leads to a 2,5% loss for Egypt.