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Egypt delegation in Ethiopia for last of 4 Renaissance Dam meetings

January 8, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Representatives of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia meet to negotiate on the filling and operation of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 8 January 2020 [Mınasse Wondımu Haılu/Anadolu Agency]

An Egyptian delegation is in Addis Ababa to attend the last of four technical meetings on operating and filling the Renaissance Dam after months of tension between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is building a $5 million dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much needed electricity and economic regeneration.

Egypt believes that when the dam is filled already scarce water supplies from the Nile will be restricted.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

READ: Sudan won’t harm Egypt over Renaissance dam, insists PM

After three way talks between the African countries failed, they settled on the US as an external mediator.

In November the US brokered a meeting in Washington, setting 15 January as a deadline for resolving the dispute, which at one point looked set to break into a military conflict between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

They agreed on four rounds of negotiations. The first was held in the Ethiopian capital, the second in Cairo and third in Khartoum.

Despite discussions looking up, over Christmas they stalled again after the third round in the Sudanese capital.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.

READ: Egypt attempts to gain written guarantees from Ethiopia over Renaissance Dam

There is also an unresolved conflict over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.

Egypt wants it to be filled over seven years at least, whilst Ethiopia is pushing for four.

Bekele has also said that any outstanding issues will be resolved in this round of negotiations in Ethiopia.