Africa: Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia Resume Negotiations On GERD

Satellite views of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on February 6, 2019, left, and in February 14, 2022.
25 September 2023

Negotiations between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) resumed on Saturday. The head of the Ethiopian delegation said that the meeting will discuss outstanding issues regarding filling and operating rules, noting that the meeting is being held after the completion of the fourth filling.

As reported previously by Radio Dabanga, Addis Ababa announced on September 10 that the fourth filling of the GERD is now complete with transfer of water from the middle corridor of the dam. The announcement was met with a chorus of condemnation from both Sudan and Egypt, who have considered the dam a bone of diplomatic contention from the outset.

During the new negotiation session, which concluded yesterday, Sudan's acting Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Dawelbeit Abdelrahman called on countries not to take hardline positions, reach compromise solutions, and deal with the GERD as "a catalyst for cooperation".

Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry said during his address to the United Nations General 78th Assembly in New York last week that Ethiopia has gone too far in filling and operating the Renaissance Dam unilaterally in clear violation of the rules of international law.

Ahmed El Mufti, a water expert and former member of the negotiating delegation in the GERD negotiations, questioned the positive results of the current GERD meetings held in Ethiopia.

"Meetings on the Renaissance Dam have been held for 10 years without achieving anything for Sudan and Egypt, while Ethiopia has fully achieved its demands," he told Radio Dabanga, "Ethiopia has completed the fourth filling of the dam, where 40 billion cubic meters have been stored, despite a decision by the African Union and the Security Council to stop activities."

He criticised the Ethiopian intransigence and the failure of Sudan and Egypt to take any measures to stop Ethiopian actions, noting that Ethiopia was satisfied with the fourth filling to achieve its goals, as it stored 40 billion cubic meters.

The water expert downplayed the importance the meetings before stopping activity in the dam and adhering to the resolutions of the African Union and the Security Council.

"Starting the meetings now gives the ongoing activities in the Renaissance Dam legitimacy," he said and expected that the final statements will include protests from Sudan and Egypt about Ethiopia's non-cooperation, while Addis Ababa continues to achieve its gains and continue activities in the dam.

He said that the negative effects of GERD for Sudan are beginning to be seen, noting that the usual flooding of the Blue Nile and the River Nile during the rainy season (June-September) has become less this year. "The floods have not reached the Nile River banks in the north, which has led to the cessation of agricultural activities on the shores and brick industries in the region."

He warned of the dire consequences for Sudan if the dam would collapse, "for natural or other reasons".

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