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Ethiopia and Egypt aim to resolve dam dispute in Washington

The dam, as of 2017. Photo: Gioia Forster/picture alliance via Getty Images

Officials from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan convened in Washington today ahead of the Jan. 15 deadline they set to reach a deal on what will be Africa’s largest hydropower dam.

Driving the news: Ethiopia, which began construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2011, considers it both a major economic opportunity and a matter of national pride. It plans to start filling the dam within months.

  • Egypt considers the dam an existential threat, as the country is facing water scarcity already and is almost entirely dependent on the Nile. It wants the dam filled much more slowly.
  • All sides have said they want a deal this week. However, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's request yesterday that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa mediate the dispute seemed to indicate much remained to be settled.

What to watch: “If the dispute is not resolved by Jan. 15 the nations will have several options ... from using an international mediator to involving the heads of states,” per Reuters.