Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia discuss Blue Nile dam dispute

Representatives from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will meet virtually today to try and resolve disputes over the operation of Addis

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Photo: AFP Photo

Representatives from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will meet virtually today to try and resolve disputes over the operation of Addis Ababa’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

GERD, a 145-metre tall hydroelectric dam that completed construction in July 2020, has been the source of severe tensions between the three countries. All rely on the Blue Nile River—Egypt the most as 97% of its irrigation and drinking water is sourced from the river. Once operational, the 6.3-gigawatt project will restrict the flow of water upstream; however, it will also supply electricity to 65 million Ethiopians currently lacking access.

Previous failed talks have only increased tensions. As Ethiopia continues construction of the national strategic project, the question is “when” and not “if” GERD will begin operation. In light of this, expect Khartoum to side with Addis Ababa during these talks in order to guarantee favourable terms on its own water sourcing. Cairo may be compelled to provide economic and trade concessions in order to guarantee an acceptable outcome for Egypt. Once finished, GERD’s control of the Nile basin’s fresh water (and by extension the food supply) will give Addis Ababa significant geopolitical control over these downstream nations, boosting its credentials as an influential regional power.

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