Egypt says Ethiopia's 'unilateral measures' over GERD will result in significant repercussions

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Mar 2021

Egypt currently suffers from chronic water scarcity while Ethiopia is seeing water abundance, irrigation minister told US Envoy to Sudan and EU envoy

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS

Egypt said on Sunday that "unilateral measures" by Ethiopia - over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam - will result in significant negative repercussions.

According to an official statement, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty received US Special Envoy for Sudan Donald Booth and European Union Envoy Marina Fraila for talks on the means to resume negotiations - over the dam - to reach a fair and legally binding deal accord.

Abdel-Aty said unilateral measures by the Ethiopian side, on the filling and operating of the dam, would result in adverse implications.

“This makes this dam one of the biggest challenges currently facing Egypt at a time where we suffer from chronic water scarcity, while Ethiopia is seeing water abundance,” the minister said, according to the statement.

His statements came in reference to Ethiopia’s unwavering position on a second filling of the dam - to take place in July - despite rejections made by Egypt and Sudan over the planned move without a legally binding deal.

The second filling aims to collect around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.

Sudan has proposed an international quartet made up of the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) to mediate the talks which collapsed in January.

Although the AU-sponsored GERD talks had already included the AU, the US and the EU as observers, the Sudanese proposal aimed at introducing the UN to the talks and turning the four parties into mediators, rather than mere observers.

Addis Ababa rejected the proposal, stressing it prefers African solutions instead.

Egypt fully supports the Sudanese proposal on the quartet, Abdel-Aty told the US and EU officials on Sunday, stressing the importance that the renewed talks be effective and serious to maximise chances of success.

He said Egypt supports development in all Nile Basin countries, affirming his keenness in the benefit for all through a fair and legally binding deal on GERD.

Egypt’s 100 million-plus population is dependent on over 95 percent of its renewable water resources.

The country fears that the massive $4.8 Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity level.

Sudan fears the GERD would put the operation of its Roseires dam and the lives of Sudanese citizens – 20 million Sudanese people rely on the Blue Nile – at "a very high risk" if an agreement regulating its operation and filling is not reached before the second filling.

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