Thu, 08 Jul 2021 - 01:21 GMT
FILE - Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam al-Sadeq al-Mahdy
CAIRO – 8 July 2021: Prior to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis scheduled for Thursday, Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam al-Sadeq al-Mahdy has been clarifying her country's position on the issue in meetings with the permanent representatives of member states.
Mahdy convened with the ambassadors of the United States, India, Ireland, Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the African Union. She also held a phone call with the German minister of international cooperation and development.
The minister underlined the necessity of reaching a legal binding agreement regulating the filling and operation of the dam to inhibit any harm to downstream countries. In that regard, Mahdy pointed out to the successful cooperation among the countries of the basins of Niger River and Senegal River.
The dispute among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters].
Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement, while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
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.
In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered tripartite negotiations among the three countries, in the presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020.
During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.
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 Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.
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 13.5 billion cubic meters.
On July 5, Ethiopia officially informed Egypt and Sudan that the second filling has begun, which is not expected to exceed four billion cubic meters, as indicated by experts.