Ethiopia announced on Tuesday that it will move forward with the second-year filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - slated for this summer - just hours after the collapse of talks with Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the re-launching of the negotiations.
The three countries have been involved in a three-day meeting in Congo's Kinshasa under the auspices of the African Union (AU) but efforts to unlock the decade-long dispute have failed.
The talks failed to make progress due to Ethiopia's rejection to Egypt and Sudan's proposal of inviting an international committee made up of the UN, the European Union (EU) and the US to help the AU in either mediating or facilitating the row, as according to Cairo and Khartoum.
Both downstream countries accused Addis Ababa of attempting to prolong the negation to impose fait accompli on the downstream countries.
"Ethiopia cannot enter into an agreement that would foreclose its current and future legitimate rights over the utilisation of the Nile," the Ethiopian foreign minister said in reference to Egypt and Sudan's demand to sign a trilateral legally-binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating of the dam.
The step, which has been sought by Cairo and Khartoum, has been repeatedly dodged or rejected by Addis Ababa.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said earlier today that Egypt and Sudan will head to the UN and Security council to brief them on the latest developments in the ten-year-old issue.
However, Ethiopia said that it expects the AU-sponsored meetings to resume around the third week of April 2021.
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.
Egypt’s 100 million-plus population is dependent on the Nile's water for 95 percent of its renewable water needs.
The country fears that the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity levels.
Sudan also fears that the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires dam, which is located nearby the Ethiopian dam, and the lives of Sudanese citizens – approximately 20 million Sudanese people – at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating its operation and filling is not reached before the second filling.