A general view of GERD, near Guba in Ethiopia (Photo: AFP)
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are set to sign a final agreement by the end of February on Addis Ababa's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a joint statement by the three countries, the United States and the World Bank read late Friday, hoping to secure an agreement which has stirred months of conflict and a deadlock in talks.
The ministers of foreign affairs and water resources of the three countries agreed on a schedule for the filling plan; a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years; and a mitigation mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years.
The last round of negotiations, which began on 28 and 29 January and saw an extension to two additional days, were sponsored by the US and the World Bank, who act as observers in the talks.
The issues are still subject to a final signing of the comprehensive agreement, where the ministers instructed their technical and legal teams to prepare the final agreement, including the mentioned points.
The ministers of foreign affairs and water resources of the three countries will meet again in Washington on 12-13 February 2020 to approve the final version of the agreement in preparation for signing it by the end of February 2020.
The ministers also agreed to finalise a mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in normal hydrological conditions, a coordination mechanism, and provisions for the resolution of disputes and the sharing of information.
They also agreed to address dam safety and pending studies on the environmental and social impacts of the GERD.
In a separate statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry said following the conclusion of the four-day talks in Washington that the “American side has prepared a document for an agreement on the three above-mentioned issues; [where] only Egypt signed the document at the end of the meeting.”
It remains unclear which of the two other countries abstained from the signing of the US-prepared document.
The latest talks comes few weeks after Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan reached a preliminary consensus in a round held earlier this month in Washington ahead of a critical deadline to finalise an agreement on the disputed dam.
Tensions have been building between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent months after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the dam had failed to make progress.
Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.