Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed might have jumped the gun when he asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to mediate in the Nile River dispute with Egypt earlier this month. Just three days later, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reached an agreement in Washington about the "filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam".

But Abiy’s request was not entirely misplaced. The dam, first announced in 2011, will allow Ethiopia to become the biggest power exporter in the Horn of Africa. Egypt and Sudan, however, fear it will restrict the flow of the Nile, which provides 90% of Egypt’s fresh water. This month negotiations threatened to deadlock again, which meant mediation would have been the next step...

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