Stalled African Union Processes Reflect Growing Rift between Ethiopia and Egypt over GERD, Highlighting the Challenges of Mediation
The frosty relations between Ethiopia and Egypt concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project are anticipated to impede processes within the African Union (AU), reflecting the magnitude of the ongoing dispute. Ambassador Mohamed Hegazy, who heads the AU’s budget subcommittee on the Egyptian side, has declined to support a budget increase aimed at granting permanent status to staff members on temporary contracts, many of whom are Ethiopian.
Hegazy has cited Egypt’s financial constraints as the reason for his refusal to augment the budget. In response, Ethiopian officials have accused him of employing the budget as a bargaining tool to further his country’s interests in the GERD controversy.
The GERD, an extensive hydroelectric dam under construction on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, has raised concerns from Egypt and Sudan due to potential adverse effects on their water supplies. Despite years of negotiations, the three countries have failed to reach a mutual agreement.
The GERD standoff has strained the already delicate relations between Ethiopia and Egypt, two nations with a history of conflicts that could be reignited by the dam. As the AU attempts to mediate the dispute, it has encountered significant obstacles, with the impasse over the budget exacerbating its challenges in finding a resolution.
The deadlock within the AU could have far-reaching consequences for the entire continent. Given the AU’s influential role in African affairs, its effective functioning is paramount for addressing critical issues like conflict, poverty, and climate change.
The current standoff between Ethiopia and Egypt serves as a stark reminder of the formidable challenges faced by the AU in resolving disputes among member states. To preserve relations between Ethiopia and Egypt and safeguard its own effectiveness, the AU must find a viable solution to break the impasse surrounding the GERD.