KHARTOUM, 4 January 2021 – Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia will resume talks later this month to resolve a dispute over the management of Ethiopia’s huge dam on the Blue Nile.
Sudan’s water ministry confirmed in a statement Sunday that the trio intend to resume where previous talks failed to reach a deal.
Ministers of the three countries held talks Sunday via video conference with officials from South Africa in attendance in the role of the current chair of the African Union rotating presidency.
Bilateral talks will continue in the course of this week, a statement released by Sudan’s water minister said in part.
Tripartite negotiations will reopen next Sunday, January 10.
The hope is that the three countries can reach an agreement on how to best take each other’s interests into account in the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The giant hydroelectric project, which broke ground in 2011, is 145 meters (475 feet) tall.
Countries downstream are concerned about how much of the dam water Ethiopia will release if a multiyear drought occurs.
The three countries also want to put in place mechanisms for resolving unforeseen future conflicts.
Egypt is dependent on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water and Cairo is deeply concerned that the dam could starve it of water supply.
Sudan boycotted talks last November, clamoring for the African Union to get more involved in pushing the three countries to a deal.
Sudan would like to see the dam operating in a way that limits flooding affecting millions of its citizens downstream.
Of the three countries, Ethiopia is alone in insisting and promising that the water supply for downstream countries will not be affected by management of the mega dam with a capacity of 254MW of hydropower.
The world’s longest river (Nile) is the main source for water and electricity for the ten countries it traverses from its rise in Rwanda to its draining point into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.
The Nile’s main tributaries – the White and Blue Niles – converge in the Sudanese capital, Kharoum.