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  • The Grand Renaissance Dam hydroelectric project in Ethiopia.

    The Grand Renaissance Dam hydroelectric project in Ethiopia. | Photo: AFP

Published 14 June 2020
Opinion

Egypt's irrigation ministry said the latest talks revealed the differences that remain with Ethiopia.

Egypt and Sudan said Saturday that talks over a dam on the Nile River will resume Monday, amid Egyptian accusations that "many fundamental issues" are still rejected by Ethiopia, the third party to the talks.

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After months of hiatus, Sudanese, Egyptian, and Ethiopian water and irrigation ministers restarted talks last week with observers from the United States, the European Union, and South Africa.

Egypt's irrigation ministry said the June 9 to 13 talks revealed the differences that remain with Ethiopia, including its "total" rejection of addressing technical issues related to "the mitigation measures for droughts and prolonged droughts and measures to address prolonged dry years.” 

Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam's reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt said the move could significantly reduce the amount of water available to it.

In a press release posted on Facebook, a spokesman for Egypt's irrigation ministry said he "is not optimistic about the prospects of achieving a breakthrough during the ongoing negotiations" on the dam.

This was due to "Ethiopia's intransigence which, once again, became abundantly clear during the ongoing meetings of the ministers of water resources of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan", he added.

The Ethiopian ministry responded that the comments were "regrettable". It said that if the continuing negotiations failed it would be because of "Egypt's obstinacy to maintain a colonial-based water allocation agreement that denies Ethiopia and all the upstream countries their natural and legitimate rights."

The Blue Nile flows from Ethiopia into Sudan where it joins the White Nile near the capital, Khartoum, to form the Nile River. Eighty-five percent of Nile waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile, which is one of the Nile's two main tributaries.

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly 10 years ago.

Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt view it as a threat to essential water supplies.

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