Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Tuesday signed an agreement regarding a controversial mega-dam project being built by Addis Ababa on the Nile.
The deal crowned three days of talks between the irrigation and foreign ministers of the three countries in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
The agreement calls for completing the technical studies into the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the downstream countries in a period between eight months to one year.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour hailed the deal as “historic”, saying that the three states have selected two French consultancy firms to conduct the technical studies into the dam’s effects.
“The deal also calls for the commitment of a declaration of principles signed by the leaders of the three countries in Khartoum in March,” he told a press conference in Khartoum.
According to the minister, a new meeting will be held within one month between the three countries to continue their talks on the dam.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, for his part, reiterated his country’s commitment to the declaration of principles signed between the three countries.
“We have held discussions in full faith with a view to reaching understandings that lead to achieving the common good and meeting the needs of all parties,” he said.
The multi-billion-dollar dam project has been at the center of a diplomatic row between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
While Ethiopia views the dam as a prerequisite for its economic development, Egypt fears the project could lead to a marked reduction in its traditional share of Nile water.
A main point of disagreement between Cairo and Addis Ababa is the latter’s plans to store water behind the dam. Ethiopia plans to store water behind the dam during the next five years, but Egypt has been pushing for delaying this move until the technical studies on the dam’s effects are completed.