Tripartite committee starts meetings on Nile dam deal

A tripartite legal and technical committee has started meetings to draft an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said.

A preliminary draft has been prepared by the committee, the Ministry said on Friday, adding that the it includes the three countries’ — Egypt, Sudan, Ethipia — proposals in one document that identifies points of agreements and disagreements, reports Xinhua news agency.

Ministers of irrigation and water resources of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have also held an African Union (AU)-sponsored video meeting to resume negotiations on reaching a binding agreement regarding the filling and operation of the GERD, it added.

They agreed that the meetings of the legal and technical committee would continue until August 28, the Ministry said, adding that the committee will submit a report to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa whose country currently chairs the AU.

On August 16, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed that the committee would resume talks over the the GERD and work jointly to unify the texts of the draft agreements.

The three countries have been negotiating under the AU over technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

The $4 billion GERD has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin since Ethiopia started constructing it in 2011.

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

However, 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.

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