By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. Weeks after violence erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), some African states met in Cairo.

2. Among the reasons for the meeting was the possibility of finding a workable solution to the chaos in Sudan. The civilian death toll was rising and ceasefire after ceasefire kept failing.

3. Impressively, something more optimistic happened. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of Egypt met on the sidelines to discuss their long-term differences over the Nile. The leaders agreed to use dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the impasse.

4. Before this meeting, the dispute was one characterized by gunboat diplomacy and dangerous sabre-rattling which could potentially be macabre. The meeting was, therefore, a sign of de-escalation and positive for the stability of Sudan—a party to the dispute.

5. And so what?

6. A couple of days ago, Ethiopia announced that it has filled the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that has been at the centre of the dispute over the Nile. The dam, located on the Blue Nile—by far the largest contributor to the Nile River water downstream—is meant to produce about 6,000 megawatts of power.

7. Egypt has responded. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has condemned the filling of the dam and called Ethiopia’s actions “unilateral”. The statement further accuses Ethiopia of disregarding the needs and the rights of countries downstream. Coming from Egypt’s foreign ministry, this could be consequential.

8. Way forward?

9. Ethiopia and Egypt have the second and third-largest populations respectively in Africa. This means the two countries will continue to need more water to cater for their respective populations now and in the future. The Nile River is their primary source of water and will continue to be critical to the relations between the two states. Sudan, despite having a relatively small population equally has an interest in the water body.

10. With this reality, there will be a need for the parties to sit around the table and discuss ten situations. This should not be mere political talk, it should consciously involve experts who could help with the management of this crucial resource. This could bring out a solution to the conundrum over how the water should be shared.

11. No zero-sum game or approach to the problem is workable. There must be a win-win outcome that considers the intricacies of each country’s needs. With populations in the Nile Basin in need of sustainable agriculture that feeds them and gets them economically empowered, cooperation and coordination over the longest river in Africa is a responsibility.

12. Also, the conflict in Sudan could be better resolved if Egypt and Ethiopia cooperate.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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