Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed- CC via Wikimedia
CAIRO - 9 June 2018: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will arrive in Cairo on Saturday evening in a two-day visit, during which he will discuss with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi the bilateral relations and the potential negative impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan), said Egyptian Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister will held the bilateral meeting with Sisi on Sunday at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Radi added, noting that a joint press conference will be held following the both leaders’ meeting.
Ahmed’s visit is the first one since he has been appointed as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April. During a phone call, President Sisi congratulated Ahmed for his appointment, confirming that “Egypt values is steadfast relations with Ethiopia and the common fate they share.”
Cairo will host a nine-party meeting on the GERD by the Nile Basin countries in June, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during a meeting with the Nile Basin countries on May 16. It has been agreed that a regular tripartite meeting to be held between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan every six months on a rotational basis to enhance mutual cooperation between the three countries in a way that serves their interests and fulfills the aspirations of their peoples, Shoukry added.
Egypt fears a likely negative impact caused by the construction of the GERD on its annual share of Nile water, the country’s main source of water. Despite the long discussions, the matter remains locked in a stalemate.
Ethiopia started to build GERD in 2011 without consulting Egypt, and the move led to a long diplomatic spat between both states. The African Horn state is in desperate need of the dam, as it suffers from staggering daily power outages.
Since then the discussions among the the countries suspended until 2014. However, in 2015, the leaders of the three countries signed the Declaration of the Renaissance Dam Principles Charter, which tackles the management of the dam with written guarantees, and states that the dam’s reservoir would not be filled without the approval of Egypt and Sudan.
Technical officials in the three countries opted to hire two French consultancy companies – BRL and Artelia – in September 2016. The negotiations were brought to a halt in November 2017 as Ethiopia and Sudan objected the companies’ preliminary report on the environmental impact of GERD.
However, the leaders of the three countries, Egypt’s Sisi, his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, and Ethiopian Abiy Ahmed, held a meeting on the sidelines of the African Union summit in January. The three leaders agreed to continue the talks to reach a settlement in accordance with the outcomes of the 2015 agreement on the dam.
In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia. Ethiopia seeks to start filling GERD’s reservoir during the upcoming Nile flood season in July.