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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan resume Renaissance Dam talks after two-year hiatus

August 28, 2023 at 6:00 pm

A view of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on February 19, 2022 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan resumed negotiations on a dam project on the Nile River’s main tributary on Sunday after more than two years of suspension, Anadolu Agency reported. 

“Negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) resumed this Sunday morning in Cairo,” the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation confirmed in a statement.

Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed to resume negotiations regarding the rules for filling and operating the dam during a summit of Sudan’s neighbours in Cairo.

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Sewilam underlined the importance of reaching a: “Balanced and legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operation of the GERD that caters to the interests and concerns of the three countries.”

Sewilam said Egypt believes: “There are multiple technical and legal solutions that meet the needs and interests of all three countries and that would enable reaching the requisite balanced agreement.”

Minister Sewilam stressed: “The continuous filling and operation of the GERD in the absence of an agreement is a violation of the Declaration of Principles agreement signed in 2015.”

The Declaration of Principles agreement includes ten clauses, most importantly not to cause significant harm and allowing the three countries to use their shared water resources fairly and appropriately.

The new round of negotiations came as Ethiopia is carrying out the fourth filling of the dam’s reservoir following the collapse of African Union-sponsored talks with Egypt in April 2021 to reach an agreement on the dam project.

In turn, the Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation and head of the Ethiopian delegation Seleshi Bekele said the tripartite negotiation will enhance cooperation between the three countries, affirming his country’s right to benefit from the Nile’s water, according to a statement issued by the Ethiopian Embassy. 

Bekele also stressed that his country: “Will continue to work towards reaching an amicable solution in the dam negotiations.”

Egypt and Ethiopia have been logged in a years-long dispute on the GERD on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile River.

Egypt views the GERD as an existential threat to its water share from the Nile and wants Addis Ababa to reach a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

Ethiopia sees the dam as crucial for its development process and denies any harm to the water share of Egypt and Sudan, two downstream countries.