Foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in US for mediated Nile dam talks

Today, foreign ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are expected to return to Washington for talks regarding the $4.5 billion Grand

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Meeting 49025412566

Photo: White House

Today, foreign ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are expected to return to Washington for talks regarding the $4.5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

This meeting is the latest in a series of talks since November and follows successful meetings last week. While an initial deadline for an agreement was missed on January 15, a preliminary agreement was reached on January 31. The parties now aim for a final deal by the end of February.

Cautious optimism abounds because the preliminary agreement has reportedly found consensus on the schedule for filling the dam’s reservoir. But caution prevails because previous consensus on this point has broken down.

This is a significant breakthrough, if it holds. Egypt has long objected to the four year period that Ethiopia wants for filling the dam. Cairo wants the dam to be filled over a longer period so that there is enough water released downstream for its use—especially during droughts. It proposes 40 billion cubic metres of water to be released annually. It is not clear what volume of water was agreed to in the preliminary agreement but it is an encouraging sign that it was agreed to at all. Should it hold, expect a final agreement to be signed within a matter of weeks.

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