Abu Dhabi: Social media users in Egypt and Ethiopia are now mocking the history of each other’s country as the debates about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam continue.
Ethiopia said last week it wanted to go ahead with filling the hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile within the next two weeks, just hours after the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced a delay to allow talks on water-sharing.
Both Egypt and Sudan had earlier appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene in the decades-long dispute.
On the one hand, many tweets, posts, pictures and videos justifying the Ethiopian right to fill the dam appeared on the hashtag #Dam_Annahda, #itsmydam, and #FillTheDam, while on the other hand, there were tweets and posts defending the Egyptian right to reject the Ethiopian decision, with some of them implying insurmountable threats.
At 145 meters high and almost two kilometers long, the Grand Renaissance Dam is expected to become Ethiopia’s biggest source of electricity. As Africa’s largest hydroelectric power dam, it will produce more than 15,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity, beginning in 2022. It will source water from Africa’s longest river, the Blue Nile.
Ethiopians published satirical videos, refusing to acknowledge Egypt’s right to the waters of the Nile, the most famous of which shows an Ethiopian woman filling two vessels with water, one for Sudan and another for Egypt, with the video ending with her emptying Egypt’s container, in a clear indication that the Ethiopians do not want to recognise Egypt’s right to the Nile.
A response came from an Egyptian citizen with another video which implied the dam should be destroyed.
Ethiopia has been vocal about its intentions of filling the dam, which it says is critical to its electrification and development needs. It says the $4 billion hydropower project will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts and will help bring millions out of poverty.
Egypt, on the other hand, relies on the Nile for 97% of its freshwater needs. It says the dam could cut its water supply and have a devastating impact on its population. Sudan, too, depends on the Nile for water and has played a key role in bringing the two sides together.
Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at taking military action to protect their interests, raising fears of open conflict.