Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan Reach Dam Agreement

  • All parties agreed not to fill the dam until a final agreement could be reached.
  • Egypt had called on the UN Security Council to intervene in the case of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
  • Upon its completion, the GERD will become Africa's largest hydroelectric dam.

Sudan and Egypt announced that Ethiopia agreed, during a mini-African summit, to postpone filling the Renaissance Dam, which it is building on the Nile River until a tripartite agreement is reached. It was also agreed to form a committee for this purpose. Negotiations over the dam have been described as “tortuous,” and lasted years.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) formerly known as the Millennium Dam and sometimes referred to as Hidase Dam, is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia that has been under construction since 2011. Once completed, the reservoir could take anywhere between 5 to 15 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period and agreements reached between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

After a meeting of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and the African Union presidency via video teleconference on Friday, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement that it was agreed that no unilateral measures would be taken to fill the reservoir of the Renaissance Renaissance Dam before reaching an agreement. The statement said:

“It was agreed at the conclusion of the summit to form a governmental committee of legal and technical experts from the three countries Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, as well as African countries that are members of the Presidency of the African Union, as well as representatives of international bodies monitoring the negotiating process.”

It added that this aims toward:

“Finalizing a final legal agreement binding on all parties regarding the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, without refraining from taking any unilateral measures, including filling the dam before reaching this agreement and sending a letter in this context to the Security Council as the competent authority to take it into account when holding its session to discuss the Renaissance Dam issue.”

In Khartoum, the Sudanese government said in a statement, “it was agreed that the filling of the dam will be postponed until after the signing of an agreement,” noting that it was also agreed that “negotiations begin at the level of technical committees immediately in order to reach an agreement within two weeks.”

Egypt Filed the Renaissance Dam Dispute to the UN Security Council

Egypt had called on the UN Security Council to intervene in the case of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Cairo fears have implications for its water supplies. This comes after the recent negotiations over the Nahdha Dam stalled, as a result of Ethiopian “non-positive” positions.

Egypt recently submitted to the Security Council a request according to what was stated in a statement of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry:

“Calling on it to intervene in order to confirm the importance of the three countries, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, continuing to negotiate in good faith, in implementation of their obligations in accordance with the rules of international law in order to reach a just and balanced solution to the issue of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Egypt–Ethiopia relations refer to the bilateral relations between the governments of Egypt and Ethiopia. Both countries established diplomatic ties in 1927 to be the oldest on the African continent and one of the oldest in the world. In 1929, a British-sponsored treaty between Egypt and some Nile basin colonies awarded the former the right to veto any project that it deems threatening to its water share.

This comes as negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia had failed.

Sudan had suggested referring negotiations with Egypt and Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam to the prime ministers of the three countries after no progress had been made in the last round of talks.

Ethiopia says the electricity expected to be generated from the Renaissance Dam that it is building on the Blue Nile is vital to pushing for development projects for the country of more than 100 million people.

However, Egypt says the dam threatens the flow of Nile water, most of which stem from the Blue Nile, with devastating effects on its economy, water, and food resources.

Ethiopia began building the dam in 2011, and with its completion, it will become Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam. Over the past week, discussions have resumed, with negotiations over the most contentious points of how the dam works in times of drought and the conflict resolution mechanism.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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