Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach agreement on Nile dam in weeks

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Leaders from Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt said they hoped the African Union could help them negotiate a deal to end a decade-long dispute over water supply in two to three weeks.

FILE PHOTO: The Great Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia is seen as it is being built on the Nile River in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region, Ethiopia, September 26, 2019. REUTERS / Tiksa Negeri / File Photo

Ethiopia, which is building the Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) that worries its downstream neighbors, Egypt and Sudan, said it would fill the reservoir in a few weeks, as planned, providing enough time to wrap up the talks.

Tortuous negotiations over the years have left the two nations and their neighboring Sudan without reaching an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir, while protecting Egypt’s scarce water supplies from the Nile River. .

Ethiopia’s water minister Seleshi Bekele said a consensus was reached to finalize an agreement within two to three weeks, a day after the leaders of the three countries and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, they will hold an online summit.

Billene Seyoum, spokesman for the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said in Friday’s agreement “there was no divergence from Ethiopia’s original position to fill the dam.”

The Egyptian presidency said in a statement after the summit that Ethiopia will not unilaterally fill the dam.

The Great Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia (GERD) is being built about 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the waters of the Nile.

Ethiopia says the $ 4 billion hydroelectric project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development.

The Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said the three countries agreed that the Nile and the Great Dam of the Renaissance “are African issues that must receive African solutions.”

Friday’s round of talks, negotiated by the African Union, is the latest attempt to advance negotiations that have repeatedly stalled due to technical and political disagreements. They also indicate an intention to solve the problem without foreign intervention.

Ethiopia’s statement said the African Union, and not the UN Security Council, will assist countries in the negotiations and provide technical assistance.

Cairo had appealed to the Council in a final diplomatic move aimed at preventing Ethiopia from filling the dam. The Council was expected to hold a public meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

Reports by Giulia Paravicini, additional reports by Aidan Lewis in Cairo, Louise Heavens edition

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