Egypt's FM, irrigation minister present to U.S. Special Envoy for Horn of Africa negotiation pathway on Ethiopian dam over past decade

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Thu, 06 May 2021 - 08:06 GMT

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry and Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty in meeting with U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman in Cairo on May 5, 2021.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry and Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty in meeting with U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman in Cairo on May 5, 2021.

CAIRO – 6 May 2021: Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry and Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty met Wednesday U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman and accompanying delegation to discuss the developments of negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

 

Both parties also held consultations over ways to make the ongoing efforts succeed in reaching a legal binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Ethiopian dam.

 

The Egyptian ministers presented the pathway of negotiations over the past decade since Ethiopia began building the dam without consultations with the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan. The ministers stipulated that the negotiations failed because of Ethiopia's intransigence and its rejection to all technical proposals on the rules regulating the operation and filling of the dam. They noted that international mediators participated in the preparation of those proposals, including the agreement that was brokered by the United States late in 2019 and early in 2020 but was not sealed as Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting.

 

Shokry and Abdel Aty reiterated that Egypt still hopes to close a deal on the Ethiopian dam before summer begins. The deal shall take into consideration the interests of downstream countries reducing negative impact caused by the dam's filling on them. The ministers also expressed readiness to deploy efforts necessary for the success of African-Union-sponsored negotiations led by the Democratic Republic of Congo. They added that Egypt looks forward to cooperate with international partners, mainly the United States, to achieve that goal and reach the aspired agreement.

 

The U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa is holding a tour that encompasses Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eretria on May 4-13.  

 

Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The capacity of the dam's reservoir is 74 billion cubic meters, aimed to generate 6,000 megawatts by installing 16 turbines.

 

The first filling was carried out in 2020 with 4.9 billion cubic meters. Currently, Ethiopia intends to do the second filling in July with at least 13 billion cubic meters. It is noted that the water shares of Egypt and Ethiopia are 55.5 billion cubic meters, and 18.5 billion cubic meters, respectively.

 

In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.

 

The latest round of talks that took place early in April failed to harness congruence on a negotiation mechanism. Similarly, Ethiopia had been rejecting enlarging the role of technical experts in negotiations per a proposal by Sudan earlier this year.

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