Current round of Nile dam negotiations to conclude

Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will today conclude talks in the Congo on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

AFP

Photo: AFP

Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will today conclude talks in the Congo on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The three nations have been divided since construction on the Blue Nile tributary began in 2011, with debates on how to manage water flow and the legality of a final accord stalling progress. Much of the dispute centres on GERD’s reservoir, including the speed it will collect and release water downstream if droughts occur. While the project is expected to double Ethiopia’s energy production, its location upstream from Sudan and Egypt means these nations are at its mercy concerning access to the critical Nile waters.

Egypt and Sudan want a legally binding agreement on GERD’s filling and operation, giving them greater water security, while Ethiopia desires less restrictive guidelines. Likewise, the two downstream nations have called for four-way mediation by the African Union (AU), EU, UN and US, despite Ethiopia’s reservations.

Expect today’s talks to prove inconclusive. Ethiopia will likely continue filling the reservoir without an accord—as such, expect Sudan and Egypt to call on the US and AU to penalise Addis Ababa. Nevertheless, the US’s suspension of aid to penalise Ethiopia has done little to force compromise. With completion scheduled for 2023, Egypt and Sudan may shift strategy, demanding shares of the hydroelectricity produced if construction continues without restitution by Ethiopia.

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