Egypt’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources announced in a Friday statement that negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have once again stalled due to continued disagreements between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on legal and technical points regarding the proposal to be presented to the African Union.
A Friday meeting between the water ministers from the three countries did not result in a unified draft proposal ready to be presented to the African Union bureau, headed by South Africa.
The meeting was held under the auspices of the African Union and in the presence of observers from the AU Bureau member states, the US, the EU and experts from the AU Commission.
Following a length discussions on negotiations in the near future, the statement explained the the ministers agreed at the end of the meeting that each country would send a letter to South Africa regarding its vision for what the next stage of negotiations should be.
Sudanese Minister of Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, said that efforts to combine the proposals from all three countries into a singular draft agreement have not gone anywhere.
Abbas added that during the session, experts from each country presented a report regarding committee work done in an attempt to develop a unified draft agreement combined from the proposals submitted by each of the three countries.
“After a careful evaluation of the development of the negotiations and reviewing the work of the expert teams over the past days, it became clear that the process of merging the three drafts had stalled,” he explained.
A Sudanese delegation stressed that negotiations are the only way to reach an agreement, with Sudan ready to resume negotiations any time after communicating with the AU’s presidency.
The second round of GERD negotiations began on July 27 under the auspices of the AU and in the presence of observers from the United States and the European Union, and experts of the African Union Commission.
It aims to reach a binding agreement regarding the filling and operation of the dam. The meetings are based on the outcomes of an African Union presidential summit held on July 21.
Egypt and Ethiopia have been in multiple rounds of negotiations over the dam during the past nine years, all of which have failed to reach a final agreement. Egypt blames Ethiopia for the failure of negotiations.
Egypt, which relies considerably on fresh water from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, especially in light of overpopulation fears, and has insisted that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam’s filling process.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stressed the importance of the project to bolstering its economy, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity.