Egypt interested in resuming negotiations on GERD with Sudan, Ethiopia soon: PM

Menna Alaa El-Din , Tuesday 25 Jan 2022

Egypt said on Tuesday that it is interested in resuming negotiations soon with Sudan and Ethiopia to reach a balanced and fair agreement on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).


The last talks between the three parties collapsed a year ago without reaching an accord.

In a post by the Cabinet on Facebook, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that Cairo is interested in resuming talks to resolve technical and legal points of contention and reach a balanced deal. 

“The deal should take into consideration Egypt’s water scarcity and reliance on the Blue Nile’s water,” he said. 

Madbouly added that development in the Nile Basin’s countries has always been a priority for Egypt, which has provided aid and expertise to help fraternal nations as a main basis in providing stability for the nations of such countries. 

“Egypt hopes to reach the desired agreement on the GERD to establish a new phase of cooperation to achieve territorial stability,” he said. 

The statements by Madbouly come hours ahead of a meeting in Cairo between Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and the new US envoy to the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, where the GERD crisis is expected to be discussed. 

Satterfield’s visit comes following visits to Ethiopia and Sudan earlier this week. 

Last week, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on Egypt, Sudan to back the GERD’s ‘narrative towards peace and cooperation’ without harming interests.

Abiy said the GERD holds “multiple benefits” for Egypt, Sudan, and the East African region at large, stressing that despite the perceived negative impacts during negotiations on the dam, “positive attributes rather outweigh the opposing rhetoric and downplay the potential for cooperation to mitigate negative factors, if such factors exist.”

It is unclear if Abiy’s statement is an invitation to revive African Union- (AU) sponsored talks in Kinshasa with Egypt and Sudan, which reached a deadlock in April 2021 owing to Addis Ababa’s “intransigence”, according to the two downstream countries.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating for almost a decade now with Ethiopia to reach a legally binding and comprehensive deal on the GERD’s construction, which Addis Ababa started to build on the Blue Nile in 2011.

Despite warnings from Egypt and Sudan about any unilateral steps regarding the GERD before an agreement is reached, Ethiopia unilaterally implemented the first phase filling in 2019 and the second filling in July 2021 without the two countries’ consent.

Ethiopia disclosed plans earlier this month to remove 17,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of forest around the dam as part of engineering works for the third filling of the dam’s reservoir, saying it will complete the work within two months. 

Satellite pictures, however, show no sign that construction work in preparation for the third filling or for generating electricity has started. 

The deadlocked talks last year later led to a war of diplomacy between Egypt and Ethiopia that reached the UN Security Council in September 2021, which concluded with the council adopted a draft presidential statement calling on the three countries to resume negotiations under the auspices of the AU.

Egypt and Sudan welcomed the UNSC decision, while Ethiopia said it will not recognise any claim that may be raised on the basis of this statement.

Cairo insists on a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the mega dam.

Earlier this month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said at the World Youth Forum that Egypt is keen to reach “a comprehensive, legally binding agreement” on the filling and operation of the GERD which would take into consideration Egypt’s concerns.

He stressed that the crisis should be resolved with dialogue.

Egypt, which is considered one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, receives around 60 bcm annually — mainly from the Nile— while its needs stand at around 114 bcm, placing the over 100-million-strong country well below the international threshold for water scarcity, at 560 cubic metres per person annually.

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