Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations to end today

Ethiopian and Egyptian representatives are set to conclude yet another round of prolonged negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ethiopia OpinioJuris

Photo: Opinio Juris

Ethiopian and Egyptian representatives are set to conclude yet another round of prolonged negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which will support Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant at completion.

The structure, which has been under construction since 2011, has been a point of persistent tensions between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Attempts at a diplomatic resolution in February and June were stymied by Ethiopia’s unilateral insistence on filling the dam throughout its rainy season to maximise revenue. While Addis Ababa asserts that an accelerated timeline is critical for domestic development, Ethiopia’s preferred timeline would drastically restrict the water supply of the Nile’s tributary system. Both Cairo and Khartoum have taken serious umbrage at these declarations as both states stand to lose significant water supply.

Expect the convergent pressures of Egyptian overpopulation, climate change and COVID-19 to raise the stakes at today’s meeting. Ethiopia’s reluctance to compromise after several rounds of negotiations, as well as its obvious eagerness to forge ahead alone, bodes ill for the prospect of a multilateral resolution. GERD has provided Ethiopia with clear leverage over the arid region’s most vital water source, and the results of today’s meeting could signal a long-term shift in the regional balance of power.

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