Egypt's irrigation ministry has denied media reports that the country faced pressure to waive some of its demands on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the latest round of negotiations.
Foreign affairs and irrigation ministers from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia convened in Washington from 13-15 January, in the attendance of representatives from the US and the World Bank, to complete negotiations aiming to reach an agreement on the filling and operations of the dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.
The meetings concluded with a joint statement about some technical points related to the operation and filling of the dam. They also agreed to reconvene on 28-29 January in Washington to finalise the agreement.
Egypt's irrigation ministry said that the statement included points that agree with the Egyptian proposals, which proves the inaccuracy of these media reports.
The ministry explained that the statement dealt with the quantities of water to be stored and the duration of the filling of the dam, which will be carried out based upon the river's hydrology.
"That means that the filling process will be dependent on the flood amounts changing from year to year," the ministry said, noting that this concept does not depend on the number of years and quantities stored each year specifically, but rather on the river's hydrological conditions and the state of the annual flood.
"The joint statement also said that the first phase of dam filing will be done quickly, and the turbines will be operated to generate energy for the Ethiopian people as the main aim of the dam, without having a significant impact on the downstream countries," the ministry said.
Definitions and descriptions of drought and prolonged drought were reached at the talks, the ministry said.
Ethiopia is committed to mitigating the consequences, while the other details in this respect will be finalised during the next consultations, which will be hosted in Washington at the end of January, according to the statement.
The next meeting is expected to deal with some legal and technical points, including cooperation on the rules of operating and the mechanism for settling disputes that may arise from re-setting the operation policy owing to changes in the flood amount from one year to another.
The next meeting is of considerable significance for solving outstanding matters and reaching a comprehensive agreement, the ministry stressed.
Ethiopia hopes that the GERD will allow it to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, while Egypt fears that the mega-dam, which is 70 percent complete and set to be fully operational by 2022, will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for water resources.