The African Union (AU) Commission said it “welcomed” an awaited resumption of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a statement by the commission read on Friday.
In an official statement, the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat praised Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for agreeing to resume technical negotiations to resolve outstanding differences over the dam.
“The chairperson further encourages the tripartite talks to pursue engagements in good faith, guided by principles of cooperation, common understanding and transparency, as stipulated in the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD,” the statement continued.
It expressed readiness to “assist all parties in finding a peaceful resolution and achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.”
The AU Commission’s statement comes one day after Egypt said on Thursday it is ready to revive talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over GERD after an announcement by Khartoum and Addis Ababa on a willingness to resume technical discussions through the irrigation ministers of the three countries.
The Egyptian foreign ministry stressed the importance that the upcoming meeting between the ministers of irrigation should be "serious and constructive" to contribute to a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement that would preserve Egypt’s water rights and the interests of the three countries.
The tripartite negotiations reached a deadlock in February after Ethiopia skipped the final round of talks in Washington, leading to a diplomatic war of words between Cairo and Addis Ababa that reached the UN Security Council.
On 1 May, Egypt sent a memo to the UNSC to blame Ethiopia for trying to establish a deal without taking the interests of downstream countries Egypt and Sudan into consideration.
Egypt had rejected, along with Sudan, an Ethiopian proposal sent last month amid the ongoing discord, where Addis Ababa proposed a “partial agreement” that would only cover the first stage of the filling.
Addis Ababa told the UNSC later this month in a letter sent in response to the Egyptian memo that it “does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam.”
Some 85 percent of the Nile water that reaches Egypt flow from the Ethiopian highlands, mainly from the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
Egypt receives an annual release of 55.5 billion cubic metres from its High Aswan Dam, while it needs over 80 billion cubic metres. It bridges the gap by water recycling and reuse.
Cairo fears the dam will diminish its water supply from the Nile, on which it relies for the vast majority of its fresh water.