The conclusion of the second round of mega-dam talks in Ethiopia. The decision of the second round of trilateral negotiations regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is also essential to Egypt and Sudan, was inconclusive, with Ethiopia pledging to continue talks “in good faith.”
The two-day talks, which brought together representatives from Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt to resolve contentious issues surrounding the GERD project on the Blue Nile, ended on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The chief of the Ethiopian negotiating team, Ambassador Seleshi Bekele, stated on Sunday, “[The parties] exchanged constructive ideas on various outstanding issues… Ethiopia reaffirms its commitment to negotiate in good faith.”
Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation published a statement on Sunday stating that the latest round of discussions regarding the $4.2bn dam concluded without significant progress.
According to the statement, Ethiopia remained opposed to compromise solutions or internationally agreed-upon technical arrangements that could resolve its specific GERD-related interests without infringing on the rights and interests of downstream nations.
The statement added that the Egyptian negotiating team remains committed to constructive negotiations with clearly defined objectives.
Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors have been engaged in protracted negotiations since 2011 to find common ground on critical issues such as the filling and operation of the dam, as well as mechanisms for resolving any future disputes. However, these negotiations still need to produce an agreement.
Concerns about the dam’s prospective impact on downstream water flow into Egypt and Sudan have been the greatest.
After years of disagreement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed resolved in July to reach a dam agreement within four months, resuming negotiations in August.
Ethiopia announced earlier this month that it had completed the fourth filling of the dam, which is central to its development plans.
Addis Abeba announced in February 2022 that the dam had begun producing electricity for the first time. The enormous hydroelectric dam, which is 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) in length and 145 meters (476 feet) in height, could generate more than 5,000 megawatts at full capacity.
That would double Ethiopia’s electricity production, of which only half of the country’s 120 million population currently has access.
Egypt and Sudan, which rely significantly on the Nile’s waters for agriculture, drinking water, and their overall livelihoods, have repeatedly emphasized the significance of finding a fair solution. Egypt could run out of water by 2025, according to the United Nations, and sections of Sudan are increasingly vulnerable to drought due to climate change.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated that Cairo wants a “binding agreement” on the dam. Egypt depends on the Nile for 97 percent of its water supply.
“It would be a mistake to assume that we can accept a fait accompli when it comes to the very lives of more than 100 million Egyptian citizens,” Shoukry said.