THE GRAND ETHIOPIAN RENAISSANCE DAM: RISK OF INTERSTATE CONFLICT ON THE NILE
Petrov, Timothy E.
Sigman, Rachel L.
Meierding, Emily L.
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Since 2011, Ethiopia has forged ahead with plans to complete the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive infrastructure project meant to bring much-needed electricity to the nation and to the region. Egypt opposes the initiative due to the perceived negative impacts associated with altering the flow of the Nile. Ethiopia has—up until now—acquiesced to Egyptian claims on the Nile, showcasing an inclination toward cooperation. With the GERD, however, Ethiopia is challenging Egypt’s historic supremacy over affairs along the Nile. Despite frameworks for cooperation, binding agreements have remained elusive and, in their absence, Ethiopia has unilaterally moved forward with the project. With construction over 65% complete, Ethiopia’s developmental ambitions have collided with Egypt’s access to natural resources, prompting fears of conflict between the sovereign states. Why has Ethiopia continued to press on with this initiative at the risk of interstate conflict? This thesis examines internal and external conditions affecting Ethiopia’s drive toward construction and completion of the GERD. It highlights internal political and economic dynamics factoring into Ethiopia’s decision-making process and showcases external considerations that have afforded Ethiopia the maneuver space to move forward with regional ambitions. Ultimately, internal and external conditions set the stage for initial construction and continue to incentivize Ethiopia toward completion.
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