Nile dam dispute: Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have agreed on resuming negotiations to settle the Nile dam dispute
Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on Sunday agreed on resuming talks to resolved the long-running dispute over the massive dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa.
According to Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez, foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries met online to hold fresh talks to negotiate the deal. The meeting was called by the current head of the African Union (AU), South Africa. As per a statement released by Sudan’s water ministry, officials, experts and observers from the three countries, AU and the United States participated in the virtual conference.
The statement also confirmed that this week’s discussions are aimed at concluding the negotiations to reach a deal by the end of January 2021.
“The talks will pave way for the resumption of tripartite negotiations on Sunday, January 10 in the hope of concluding by the end of January,” the ministry said, as quoted by reports.
Earlier attempts to initiate three-way negotiations to enter an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia failed after Khartoum did not attend the talks called by South Africa in November 2020.
The dispute refers to a 2011 hydropower project centering to the filling and operation of the huge reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The largest hydroelectric dam in Africa has caused unprecedented tensions between the three countries in the region.
Egypt is fearing that the dam would gravely impact its source of water, noting that 97 percent of its drinking and irrigation water come from the Nile. Sudan, on the other hand, has warned that several lives would be affected in the region in the absence of a concrete deal.
Egypt and Sudan have also expressed concerns over the amount of water Ethiopia will release downstream in case of a multi-year drought. In this regard, both countries have called for a legally binding agreement to resolved the dispute.
However, the Addis Ababa government has insisted that downstream water supplies to these countries will not be affected. In its defence, Ethiopia, the second-most-populous country in Africa, has also maintained that its 110 million people is significantly dependent on the hydroelectric power produced at the $4.6 billion dam.
After weeks of boycotting the talks, Sudan urged the African Union to intervene in the negotiations to reach a deal.
In July 2020, Ethiopia has announced that it successfully reached its first-year target for filling the dam’s reservoir.