Tripartite negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ended on Monday and each country will have to submit a report to South Africa, which holds the rotating presidency of the African Union.The negotiations, which lasted 11 days, were held at the initiative of South Africa and the African Union, in the presence of 11 observers, including the United States and the European Union.
At the end of the meeting, the Water Ministers of the three countries agreed that each country would submit its final report on Tuesday on the path to negotiations to South Africa as the current chair of the African Union in preparation for the African mini-summit.
It should be noted that the most recent meetings of the technical committees between the three countries aimed at reaching agreement on the stumbling blocks in the two tracks. Negotiations have always stumbled over the persistent differences on the main issues concerning the rules of filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam.
The project, which is set to become Africa’s largest hydroelectric facility with a production capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts, has caused great tension between Ethiopia and its Egyptian and Sudanese neighbours.
Khartoum and Cairo fear that the 145-metre high dam will restrict their access to water when the reservoir begins to fill in July, the date initially indicated by Ethiopia.
On June 26, Egypt and Sudan had assured that the filling of the reservoir would be postponed until an agreement is reached. But the next day Ethiopia reaffirmed its willingness to start filling the reservoir of its gigantic dam “within the next two weeks,” while committing itself to try to conclude a final agreement with Egypt and Sudan during this period, under the aegis of the AU.
On June 20, as negotiations resumed and stalled, Cairo called on the UN Security Council to intervene. Egypt considered the project an “existential” threat and Sudan warned of “great risks” to the lives of millions of people. Ethiopia sees the construction of this project as essential to its development and electrification.