Sudan’s capital Khartoum will on Friday host a tripartite meeting involving Egypt and Ethiopia. The meeting, which was postponed last Saturday, a day before it was scheduled to take place, will focus on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Irrigation and foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Sudan will be present at what will be the tenth of such meetings. The sit-down, scheduled for the weekend, is expected to focus on smoothing disagreements regarding the construction of the GERD.
Since 2010, when Ethiopia announced plans of constructing the 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam, there have been disagreements with neighboring countries. Egypt and Sudan, both beneficiaries of the Nile, have expressed worry over the project, which once completed will be the biggest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
Egypt has consistently expressed worry that the construction will affect its annual share of water from Nile. The GERD is being built on the Blue Nile and will have a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic meters of water.
As per an agreement signed in the 1950s, Egypt currently receives about 55 billion cubic meters (14.5 billion gallons) of water from the Nile annually.
“As part of negotiations, Egypt seeks to preserve its historical share of the Nile River water and ensure that the period during which the water is being stored in the Ethiopian dam does not affect that share,” Egypt’s Prime Minster Sheriff Ismail said.
While Cairo has consistently expressed concerns, Addis Ababa has allayed these fears. Ethiopia’s government has assured its neighbors that the dam will not negatively affect downstream countries.
The Khartoum meeting will reportedly focus on technical issues regarding the dam’s construction. The three neighboring countries have disagreed over the methods employed by the Dutch and French consultancy firms contracted to conduct technical studies on the effects of the dam.
This week, Egypt asked the United Arab Emirate (UAE) to help solve it dispute with Ethiopia regarding the GERD with. Cairo reportedly raised the issue with the Gulf States two years ago during the Africa-Arab Summit in Kuwait.
“We talked with the Gulf states clearly; because there is a large Gulf investment in Ethiopia in the field of agriculture,” Egypt’s former Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs, Ambassador Mona Omar said.
“Egypt’s coordination with Gulf countries comes within the framework of using every possibility to resolve the problem peacefully after talks reached a dead end.”
Meanwhile Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir has reportedly said the construction of the GERD is a reality that needs cooperation to succeed.
Bashir added that Egypt’s concerns about the GERD were exacerbated during the reign of ousted and imprisoned former President Mohamed Morsi.
“Some Egyptian officials under the rule of Morsi who were non-Islamists appeared on air directly threatening Ethiopia, claiming that they would support the opposition and launch military operation targeting the dam itself,” Bashir said this week.
Photo: Ethiopia News Agency