Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday said that he trusts in the African Union, under the presidency of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, to reach a binding agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before implementing the second stage of the filling process, which will satisfy Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
During the 34th ordinary session of the African Union summit held via video-conference, Sisi thanked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for sponsoring previous tripartite negotiations.
Sisi said that “Egypt has engaged in good faith and seriousness in the African track, hoping to reach the desired agreement in a way that takes into account the interests and rights of the parties concerned, a goal that will not be achieved without the availability of the political will of all parties, and I confirm our keenness to solve this issue through serious negotiations in a way that enhances security, stability and development in the region.”
The Egyptian president also called to strengthen joint efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Africa’s economy, health and security. He also stressed the need to continue developing the continent’s infrastructure as an essential step to achieve integration.
Sisi also thanked the confidence shown by North African countries in choosing Egypt for the third time to represent the region as part of the African Union Summit Bureau 2021.
Sudan previously said that it will not accept the imposition of a fait accompli deal in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, and is eager to respond against Ethiopia without resorting to war.
Sudanese Sovereignty Council member Mohammed al-Fekky said that the Sudanese army can protect Sudanese territories and restore its lands in dispute with Ethiopia.
Egypt on January 10 said that the recent sessions of GERD negotiations have failed once again due to differences on how to resume talks and of the procedural aspects related to managing the negotiation process.
The three parties have held several rounds of negotiations over the past years, but have ultimately failed to reach an agreement.
The construction of the dam, which began in 2011, is considered to be one of Egypt’s most serious water issues.
Egypt, which relies considerably on freshwater from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, 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 bolster its economy, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity.
Sudan is somewhat caught in the middle of the conflicting interests of Egypt and Ethiopia. There is potential for the country to develop further with the GERD’s operation, but government officials worry that it could also threaten preexisting dams.