Water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are scheduled to meet on January 8th in Addis Ababa in a two-day meeting to resume talks over the operation and filling process of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and its reservoir. Addis Ababa is the final round of discussions before the three parties travel to the US by the middle of this month for the final assessment of the whole situation. Representatives of the World Bank and US Department of the Treasury are attending this final round.
The three parties are expected to reach a final decision regarding the filling process of GERD without harming interests of any of the three parties. In the previous meetings which took place in Egypt and Sudan they agreed that the filling process would be in accordance with the Blue Nile’s hydrology, i.e. Ethiopia will take into consideration the year of drought so as to reduce the filling to its minimum level. Also, they have initially agreed that the filling of GERD’s reservoirs would take place over seven years.
Meanwhile, veteran water expert Diaa Al-Qousy told 7Dnews that the results of the current meeting taking place in Addis Ababa are expected to positive and in favour of the three parties. “The three parties have already reached agreement on some of the technical issues while others will be discussed during the Addis Ababa meeting. This meeting and the previous ones decide the future of the River Nile nations, officials can’t be hasty in any decision they take. They have to be cautious because it is very difficult to revoke any decision made,” said Al-Qousy.
The GERD which is about 40km east of the Sudanese border and built over the Blue Nile is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of hydro-electric power and will reserve 74 billion cubic metres of water. Most of the Ethiopian dam’s construction work has been completed and the filling of its reservoir will start next July. Ethiopia will sell most of the generated power to neighbouring east African countries.
Although the construction of the GERD has been causing deep anxiety to downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan), regarding its impact on their historical share of the Nile's water, Ethiopian officials have been all the time confirming that downstream countries share of the Nile will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project. According to Ahram Online, foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan should meet on January 13th in the US, in the presence of officials from the US Treasury and the World Bank, to finalise an agreement to resolve the dispute which has been going between the three countries over GERD’s filling and operational processes for more than ten years.
Egypt wanted to reach a comprehensive agreement based on the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015 regarding all issues related to GERD. According to this Declaration which was signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, if the three countries failed in resolving the dispute through negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.