ADDIS ABABA- Egypt's stubborn stance during the negotiation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) doesn't stem from fear that the dam will reduce its water supply. Rather, it is a result of concern that Ethiopia's development will threaten its hegemonic influence in the Nile Basin, assert scholars.
Wollo University Political Science and International Relations Lecturer Dejen Yemane said that Egypt's constant opposition to any development activity in the Nile Basin is not an outcome of fear of water shortage. "Egyptians are well aware that the Nile is sufficient for the development of countries in the Basin."
According to Dejen, the amount of the Nile water that empties into the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt and lost in the desert through evaporation is more than enough for riparian countries if it is properly and efficiently utilized.
Currently, as agricultural activities in Egypt are in decline and the economy is becoming more and more dependent on the tourism and industry sector, this will result in reduced water demand.
Besides, Egypt has a lot of alternatives such as underground water and seawater from the Mediterranean to improve its water supply.
The fact is Egypt remains an influential country because of its strategic location. As a result, it has reaped many benefits. It is widely accepted and supported by the Western world, especially the United States and Europe, the scholar added.
Egypt's desire to expand its influence is not limited to the Middle East and the Muslim world but also extends to the Horn of Africa. More importantly, Egypt looks at rising Ethiopia as a threat to its ambition, Dejen said.
As long as the countries in the region, including Ethiopia, are poor and weak, Egypt thinks it can maintain its hegemonic influence.
"A strong Ethiopia can only be created if it utilizes its natural resources properly. Egypt is well aware that the Nile is key to Ethiopia's strategy to get rid of poverty," he said. "Hence, their behavior has to do with maintaining their hegemonic influence."
Wolkite University Political Science Assistant Prof. Daniel Mekonnen seconded Dejen's idea stressing that Egypt's main concern is not water scarcity. "All they want is to maintain their sphere of influence," he said.
"Egypt believes that Ethiopia is an obstacle to its influence in the Horn of Africa. That is why they want to maintain hegemonic influence over the Nile waters."
"They have tried different strategies to maintain the status quo. They are still working to keep Ethiopia unstable, weak, and poor," added the Assistance professor.
Egypt wants a binding agreement concerning the filling and operation of GERD for this same reason, the scholars underline adding Ethiopia should be very careful in this regard.