Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan edge closer to Nile dam agreement

Cairo is worried the new construction will restrict its water supplies from the river

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have come closer to agreeing on how the giant hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile will be operated, the Sudanese irrigation minister said on Sunday.

Cairo is worried the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, will restrict supplies of the scarce Nile waters on which it is almost entirely dependent.

Ethiopia launched the GERD project in 2011 to provide electricity to more than half of the country’s population and become Africa’s largest power exporter.

“Proposals were submitted by the three countries regarding filling the reservoir and operating the dam and a convergence [of views] occurred,” Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after meeting his Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts in Khartoum.

The World Bank and the United States were observers of Sunday’s meeting in the Sudanese capital. It followed meetings held in November in Addis Ababa and one held in Cairo in December.

“It was agreed to take the new positions separately to be discussed at the meetings in Addis Ababa,” Mr Abbas said. The three sides will meet in the Ethiopian capital on January 2 and 3.

They have agreed to define droughts and the operating conditions during droughts, Mr Abbas said.

“There is a convergence in general, and there are differences of views in some circumstances. Sudan proposed a specified time for filling the reservoir and added definitions for drought and continuous drought,” he said.

Mohamed Abdel Aty, Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation, said his country had shown leniency in the talks.

“We expect from other parties to listen to our views on the rules of filling the reservoir. The rules have to be integrated and we are ready to hold frank talks,” he said.

Updated: December 23, 2019 03:38 PM

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