ROME, 30 June 2021 – Egypt has shared its concerns over Ethiopia’s mega dam on the Nile with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Egypt’s foreign minister met with Blinken on the sidelines of a foreign ministers’ meeting held in Rome.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as the project is called, sits on the Blue Nile, upstream from Egypt.
Officials in Cairo are concerned that Egypt’s supply of fresh water will be severely curbed if there is no agreement on how to manage the waters of the Nile prior to Ethiopia’s second filling of the dam expected to begin over the upcoming rainy season next July.
Sudan, which is also dependent on the Nile for its fresh water supplies, has expressed similar concerns.
Khartoum is keen to ensure that a deal on how to manage the GERD will help Sudan cope better with seasonal floods during the rainy season, without starving its farming sector of the waters it needs to grow food during tough dry seasons or extended spells of drought.
Negotiations mediated by the African Union bringing together the three countries – Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – have been unsuccessful so far.
Ethiopia says the dam is a kingpin in its development program going forward.
It is projected to help extend access to electricity to up to 65 million Ethiopians.
The administration of former American President Donald Trump adopted a hands-off approach to discussing the GERD crisis, with Trump, at one point, telling Ethiopia that Egypt will not hesitate to blow up the dam if Ethiopia proceeded with filling it without a written agreement with downstream states.
The U.S. State Department under President Joe Biden has said America “continues to support collaborative as well as constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan in order to reach an arrangement on the GERD”.