Leaders from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan on Tuesday agreed to resume talks to break a deadlock on the controversial Nile dam, reported Reuters.
Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, Sudan’s Abdalla Hamdok, and Egypt’s presidency made the announcement separately after a virtual mini-African Union summit that was called after they failed to reach an agreement earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said the three countries had reached a “major common understanding which paves the way for a breakthrough agreement” and more talks were imminent.
The statement came as some new satellite images show the water level in the reservoir behind the nearly completed $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is at its highest in at least four years. It suggested that enough water had accumulated to enable Ethiopia to test the Nile dam’s first two turbines.
“The dam under construction is already overtopping,” the statement from Abiy’s office said.
It added that Ethiopia was committed to a “balanced and win-win” negotiation that ascertains that the river will benefit all the three countries involved.
The Egyptian presidency also released a statement confirming that negotiation talks on the Nile dam would continue and focus for the time being on giving priority to coming to a legal agreement covering all the rules for filling and operation of the dam.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chaired the virtual meeting of the AU on Tuesday, confirmed there would be further negotiations.
“The trilateral negotiations remain on track,” Ramaphosa wrote on Twitter.
Notably, Egypt and Sudanboth fear the $4 billion hydroelectric dam could lead to water scarcity in their own countries. Egypt, which gets 90% of its fresh water, is concerned that already limited Nile waters will be further restricted.
The Nile dam has been under construction since 2011. Once completed, it will become the largest dam in Africa.