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Egypt says Ethiopia's position on dam has ‘not tangibly changed’

August 29, 2023 at 2:04 pm

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

Egypt yesterday said that Ethiopia’s position regarding the Renaissance Dam has “not tangibly changed”, noting that “Egypt will continue its efforts to reach in the nearest time possible a legally binding deal.”

This came in a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, at the conclusion of a new round of negotiations on the Renaissance Dam, which began on Sunday in Cairo.

The ministry, which hosted the new negotiations, said in the statement: “The round of negotiations that has ended in Cairo did not witness a tangible change in Ethiopia’s positions.”

The statement noted that delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia participated in the negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam.

Egypt insisted that the deal reached should “safeguard Egyptian interests and water security while benefiting the three nations.”

The ministry said that this position “requires all negotiating parties to adopt a comprehensive vision that combines the protection of national interests and the achievement of benefits for all.”

Earlier yesterday, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said “Delegations from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan concluded the first round of tripartite negotiations regarding the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam.”

“The delegations agreed that Ethiopia would host the next round of negotiations in September 2023 in Addis Ababa,” it added.

On 13 July, Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, agreed to start “urgent” negotiations regarding the rules for filling and operating the dam.

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

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.

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.

In February 2022, Ethiopia announced that it had begun generating electricity from the dam, as the first phase of switching on turbines had begun.

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