Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia agree to resume Nile dam talks

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have agreed to resume talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River on Tuesday.

A video meeting, called by South Africa, was held on Sunday with participation of foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, reports Xinhua news agency.

“After prolonged discussions, the participants in the meeting decided to resume the talks on August 18 and work to unify the texts of the draft agreements presented by the three countries,” Sudan’s Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry said in a statement.

Sudan reiterated commitment to returning to the talks with the spirit of African solidarity and on bases of the previously agreed agenda and the principles of the international law related to equitable use of water resources without causing harm to others, according to the statement.

Sudan further stressed that reaching a comprehensive deal on filling and operation of the GERD and the future projects would be an additional evidence on enhancing regional cooperation and a confirmation to the principle of searching for African solutions to the African issues.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been negotiating under the African Union over technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

Sunday’s development came after Egypt on August 4 reiterated its rejection against any “unilateral move” by Ethiopia to fill the reservoir of the dam without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries.

Ethiopia in mid-July started filling some four billion cubic meters of water in the reservoir whose capacity is 75 billion cubic meters.

On July 25, Egypt stated that the first filling of the $4 billion dam wouldn’t harm the country’s share of the Nile resources.

However, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s controversial points of discussion over the past 10 years have been inflamed by the Ethiopian desire to fill the reservoir in only three years while the other two countries target the filling in seven to ten years to avoid the implications of the time of severe drought.

The massive dam is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.

Ethiopia started building the dam in 2011, while Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its freshwater, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources.