GERD talks ended without 'complete' agreement: Ethiopia

Ahram Online , Thursday 5 Nov 2020

Egypt and Sudan announced the tripartite meeting saw incompatibility on the methodology for completing negotiations

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Photo: Reuters)

Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt failed to reach a complete agreement on the methodology of the upcoming negotiations on the dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Addis Ababa stated.

"The three countries reached an understanding to resort to the chairperson of the AU Executive Council and the minister of international relations and cooperation of South Africa to consult on the next steps of the negotiation," the Ethiopian irrigation ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The three countries held a ministerial meeting on Wednesday, in the attendance of each country's irrigation minister, as part of the one-week talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) with the aim of reviving negotiations stalled since August.

During the meeting, each country put forward its proposal for the framework that it sees should be established for the upcoming negotiations over the hydropower project that Ethiopia started to build in 2011.

The Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported the Ethiopian irrigation ministry said the three ministers exchanged views on the role of AU experts and their terms of reference, as well as the timeframe for negotiations.

The statement added that Ethiopia made propositions to bridge the positions of the three countries.

In separate statements on Wednesday, Egypt and Sudan announced the tripartite meeting saw incompatibility on the methodology for completing negotiations.

The week-long talks kicked off on Sunday with experts meeting following a call by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the AU, to resume negotiations halted since August and to end the standoff between the three countries.

The AU-sponsored round of negotiations was launched in July after negotiations between the three countries reached deadlock last year as did negotiations sponsored by the US and the World Bank in February.

The GERD, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of contention between the three countries. Cairo that has more than 85 per cent of its Nile water flow from Ethiopian highlands fears the massive hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supplies, which are already below scarcity level, from the River Nile, while Sudan fears the GERD could endanger the safety of its own dams.

Ethiopia, however, says the 6,000-megawatt dam is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter with the GERD, which is set to be the continent’s largest dam.

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