Tarek Hamad Adel, Egypt Ambassador to the UK, during the GERD's virtual meeting on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
The Egyptian Embassy in London has organised a virtual meeting with a group of experts in water resources management, including British officials and researchers concerned with African affairs to review the developments of the negotiations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a statement by Egypt's foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
In addition to reviewing the developments in the GERD negotiations, the meeting, the statement said, was also to present Egypt's efforts to reach an agreement that preserves the water rights of the three countries.
The meeting, the statement said, comes within the framework of the ministry's continuous efforts to explain Egypt's position in the $4.8 billion near-complete dam.
Egypt and Sudan have been in talks with Ethiopia for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the massive hydropower dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.
Three African countries have a scheduled meeting on Thursday, 19 November, to discuss how to reach a legally-binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the near-complete dam in line with resolutions of the mini-African summit held in July.
Thursday's meeting comes in response to a call from South Africa's foreign minister to discuss how to reach a mechanism to revive negotiations halted earlier in November.
On 4 November, which saw the latest round of the negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU), Egypt’s irrigation and water resources ministry said that it has become clear during that day's tripartite discussions on the Ethiopian dam that there is no compatibility between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the methodology for completing the negotiations within the next stage.
The previous round of negotiations between Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa, mediated also by the AU, came to an end in August as a result of disagreements on the rules for filling and operating the hydropower project that culminated in non-binding guidelines proposed by Ethiopia, which were rejected by Egypt and Sudan, both of whom seek a legally binding agreement.
That AU-sponsored round of negotiations was launched in July after negotiations between the three countries reached a deadlock last year, as did negotiations sponsored by the US and the World Bank in February.
The GERD, built 15 kilometers 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 is already below scarcity level, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.
Ethiopia 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.