CAIRO, 4 Januray, 2021, (TON): Ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed on Sunday to hold a week-long round of negotiations to discuss the substantive aspects and controversial points over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Previous three-way talks have failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-metre (475-foot) tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydropower project which broke ground in 2011.
On Sunday, the three countries held a new round of talks by video conference in the virtual presence of South African officials, as well as other international observers. South Africa currently holds the African Union's rotating chair.
At the end of this week, the ministry added, another ministerial meeting will be held, chaired by South Africa, the current chair of the AU, to review the outcomes of the tripartite round of negotiations.
During the meeting, Egypt stressed the need to reach an agreement before the start of the second phase of filling the dam reservoir, in a way that achieves the common interests of the three countries.
Ethiopia, which started building the US$4-billion GERD in 2011, expects to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity to push the country's development. Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its fresh water, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources.
The Nile, the world's longest river, is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses. Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.