Congolese official visits Egypt to discuss Ethiopian Dam within AU chairmanship

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Wed, 24 Feb 2021 - 01:31 GMT

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters

FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters

CAIRO – 24 February 2021: Coordinator of the Congolese unit in charge of African Union (AU) affairs, Professor Alphonse Ntumba, visited Egypt Wednesday to discuss the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

 

As Democratic Congo is chairing the AU for the year 2021, it is attempting to revive stalling negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

 

In that regard, Ntumba declared his country's congruence with the Sudanese suggestions on the matter, which is expanding the role of the experts in negotiations.

 

On the other hand, the Egyptian side thanked the Democratic Republic of Congo for its eagerness to get acquainted with all aspects of the crisis and its latest developments in light of the AU's sponsorship of the tripartite negotiations.

 

Egyptian diplomats asserted that Egypt looks forward to the role that can be played by Democratic Congo in reaching a legal binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam in a way that preserves the interests of the three states, a statement by the foreign ministry indicated.

 

The Egyptian officials also affirmed support to a Sudanese proposal aimed at developing the negotiations mechanism by creating an international quartet encompassing in addition to the AU, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the United States.

 

The quartet shall mediate through the negotiations to take place under the auspices of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, and that is to help sealing a legal binding agreement among the three African states as soon as possible.

 

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.

 

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 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. 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.

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