Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia should act on GERD dispute based on binding deals: South Africa

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 May 2022

South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor has said that Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have to act in accordance with binding agreements regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute.

Sameh Shoukry   Naledi Pandor
South Africa s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during their joint press conference in Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday 25 May, 2022. Photo courtesy of Egyptian Foreign Ministry Facebook page.


This would help the discussions between the three countries not end up in chaos, Pandor told a press conference on Wednesday alongside Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. 

South Africa supports the continuation of the discussions under the AU to settle the GERD dispute, she added.

For his part, Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s call for reaching a legally-binding agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the mega dam in accordance with international law and through negotiations that fairly take into consideration the interests of the three countries. 

The binding agreement should fulfil the aspirations of Ethiopia in development and prosperity and secure a decent life for the Ethiopian people, the top Egyptian diplomat said. 

The deal should also protect the Egyptian and Sudanese water security, especially in light of Egypt’s full dependence on the Nile for its water resources, Shoukry added. 

“We want to be supportive of our brothers in Africa and we see promising opportunities for bilateral, tripartite and collective cooperation between us and our brothers in Ethiopia to achieve mutual benefit, security and stability,” the Egyptian FM stated. 

Egypt will continue through peaceful means and negotiations to reach an agreement that secures the interests of all parties equally, he added. 

Pandor made an official visit to the Egyptian capital today, during which she and Shoukry chaired the ninth round of the joint committee between Egypt and South Africa and held a comprehensive dialogue on enhancing bilateral and continental cooperation.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for almost a decade now to reach a legally binding and comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, which Addis Ababa started building on the Blue Nile in 2010. 

Cairo and Khartoum have blamed the failure of the talks on Ethiopian “intransigence” and refusal to sign any legally binding deal. 

The latest round of African Union-sponsored talks between the three countries over the GERD in Kinshasa, DRC collapsed in April 2021, and all attempts to revive the negotiations have since failed. 

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly affirmed earlier in 2022 that Cairo is interested in resuming negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia and resolving technical and legal points of contention to reach a balanced deal. 

Egypt — which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs — fears that the unilateral operation of the GERD and the filling of its 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir will negatively impact its water supply, while Sudan is concerned the GERD will harm the regulation of flows to its own dams and compromise their safety. 

On the other hand, Ethiopia says the project — which will generate 5,250 megawatts of electricity when completed — is essential for producing electricity and economic development, and has repeatedly dismissed the concerns of Cairo and Khartoum. 

Egypt has stated that it has no objections to Ethiopia using the dam to generate the electricity it needs for its development plans, but it opposes any action that compromises its already inadequate supply of Nile water or changes its patterns.

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