Ethiopian reniassance dam- photo is a screenshot from Google maps.jpg
CAIRO – 7 January 2021: Spokesperson of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Dina Mufti revealed that there are differences between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) about “future water development projects on the Abbay Basin.”
“Ethiopia and Sudan accepted the draft document of the AU on the continuation of the trilateral negotiation, a defined role of the AU experts. There is an agreement on most of the issues of the filling and operation of the dam but there are differences in the future water development projects on the Abbay Basin, she said in media briefing on January 5, 2021.
She continued that a trilateral meeting was scheduled to continue at the experts’ level with oversight of ministers of water affairs on Monday (January 4, 2021) to discuss the agreed and outstanding issues in order to be presented and discussed later a ministerial meeting expected to be held on the 10th of January 2021. “But the program on Monday was canceled because of the absence of Sudan,” she added.
On January 4, 2021, the tripartite meeting between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia was terminated due to the absence of Sudan, according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.
The meeting, which was held upon an invitation from the Ethiopian side, was attended by water ministers from Egypt and Ethiopia, technical and legal delegations from the two countries, observers and experts assigned by the African Union Commission, the statement said, adding that, Sudan did not participate in the meeting.
Immediately, Egypt’s Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel visited Khartoum where he discussed GERD, wide-scale cooperation and regional developments with top Sudanese officials.
Kamel tackled mutual interests with Sudanese counterpart Jamal Abdul Majeed, Chairman of the Military Transitional Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.
One day later, US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, stressed, Wednesday during their meeting in Khartoum the need to reach a fair legal agreement on the mobilization and operation of the GERD.
Egypt is diplomatically pressing to find solutions to the outstanding issues regarding the dam’s operation and reservoir filling, particularly ahead of the second round of the filling process due in August 2021.
In mid-July 2020, Ethiopian authorities unilaterally carried out the first phase of the filling process with 4.9 billion cubic meters; and it is expected – as reported by the BBC- that the second phase of the filling would reach 13 billion cubic meters.
In previous remarks to Egypt Today, former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Houssam Moughazi said, “It is hopeful that the three countries reach a final agreement during this time before the second phase.”
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.