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Sunday, 19 November 2017

El Sisi’s warnings to Ethiopia top conversation on the airwaves

Topping the conversation on the airwaves last night was President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s sharp warning to Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) after that country, along with Sudan, failed to approve a study on its potential effects. Surprisingly, the comments led to an interesting discussion on the perils of rice cultivation.

Background: “Water is a matter of life or death,” El Sisi said, adding that “no one can touch Egypt’s share of water,” according to the Associated Press says. The remarks came after discussions over GERD reached a stalemate last week when the study confirmed the dam would cut into Egypt’s supply of Nile water. El Sisi is expected to meet Ethiopia’s prime minister in Cairo in December to further talks on the issue. House representatives last week had also declared they would not sign off on the GERD agreement until Egypt’s share of water was secure.

House rattle saber: The head of the African Relations Committee at the House of Representatives, El Sayed Felaifal, told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary that Ethiopia’s actions is a deliberate provocation to Egypt (watch, runtime: 6:27).

Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi took President El Sisi’s comments as an urgent call to action for Egyptians to cut their use of water. She was particularly critical of rice cultivation. “82% of Egypt’s share of the Nile goes towards agriculture, with rice cultivation consuming 25% of that amount,” she said (watch, runtime: 2:26). She delved further on the subject with Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Hussam El Emam, who said that illegal rice cultivation covers an area of 650K feddans, consuming between 2.5-3 bn cubic feet of water. He added that the ministry is currently resorting to fines of up to EGP 3,000 per feddan for violators (watch, runtime: 3:43).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib was also honed in on water conservation and the perils of growing rice. He called for halting cultivation of rice altogether and only import the crop (watch, runtime: 2:09). As we’ve said before, exporting rice is effectively exporting water.

El Sisi’s statements came during the inauguration of what the local press is calling the Middle East’s largest fish farm in Kafr El Sheikh. The EGP 4 bn project took 18 months to complete and will also be home to a fish feed factory (watch, runtime: 7:07).

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