Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia reach agreement on next steps for dam technical studies

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 May 2018

Tripartie ministers meeting
A screen shot of video showing Egypt and Ethiopia's officials signing the agreement in Addis Ababa (Photo: Egyptian foreign ministry)

After more than 12 hours of non-stop talks in Addis Ababa, Egypt's ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, along with the country's intelligence chief, reached on Wednesday morning an agreement with their Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts on the next steps to reconcile their views on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced.

The meeting between the nine officials was an attempt to break the deadlock in recent talks over the technical study conducted by a French firm on the potential effect of the Ethiopian dam on Nile downstream countries.

Egypt has repeatedly voiced concerns that the rate of filling the resevoirs of the GERD could reduce its share of Nile water, which Ethiopia denies.

During the negotiations, the parties agreed to five new points and renewed their commitment to the earlier Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which was signed in Khartoum in March 2015.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Twitter on Wednesday that "Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed a ministerial meeting outcome document wherein the [parties] agreed to send their comments on the initial technical report to the [French] technical consultancy firm [which issued it], hold a tripartite summit meeting every six months, found a joint-investment fund and establish an independent scientific group to reconcile their differing views on the dam."

The three countries agreed that each can submit their comments or inquiries to the firm via email without any attempt to influence its findings.

One week after the firm sends its responses, a tripartite meeting will be held in Cairo in the presence of firm representatives to discuss the responses. 

That meeting will be followed by another tripartite meeting with firm representatives in Cairo on 18-19 July.

The last meeting between the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia was held in January on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The three sides also agreed on Wednesday to establish a joint scientific study group to ensure equitable water sharing and utilisation.

Each of the three countries will nominate five representatives to the study group, which will assess the parties' cooperation frameworks so as to avert harm to any country's share of resources.

The study group will deliver its reports on 15 August to the three countries' ministers of irrigation, who, in turn, will present on them at a future tripartite summit in the presence of the consultancy firm.

Finally, the parties agreed to found a joint investment fund to facilitate infrastructure development in the three countries.

Cairo will invite high-ranking officials for a 3 July meeting to discuss the framework for that fund and will relay the results of that meeting to the Sudanese and Ethiopian leaders.

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