Egypt and Ethiopia are embroiled in a tussle over a multi-billion dollar dam project on the Nile river. The dispute, which also involves Sudan, centers on control of a share of the waters of the Nile that stretches 6,695 km (4,184 miles) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean and is the economic lifeblood of all three countries. Cairo alleges that the dam would threaten water supplies that feed Egypt’s agriculture and economy. Ethiopia accuses Cairo of flexing its political muscle to hinder investments in Ethiopian power projects. This dispute joins maritime disputes from the Gulf of Guinea to the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Rift valley that could curb ongoing and impending oil and gas explorations as countries seek to extend their continental shelf beyond the 200 mile economic exclusion zone.
It is urgent that Africa comes up with mechanisms that will address these disputes satisfactorily and with sobriety before they flare up and get out of hand, posing a threat to regional security. Meanwhile, 50 years of dispute over territory brings to question the region’s diplomatic and dispute settling mechanisms.