Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt began another new round of talks on Sunday to resolve the long-running dispute over Addis Ababa’s 145-meter-tall mega-dam project on the Blue Nile, reported Africa News.
Negotiations between the three countries have been stalled for several months. The November talks also concluded without any progress.
On Sunday, the representatives from the three countries held a fresh round of talks by video conference in the virtual presence of South African officials, as well as other international observers. South Africa currently holds the African Union’s rotating chair.
“The meeting concluded … that this week will be devoted to bilateral talks between the three countries, the experts, and the observers,” Sudan’s water ministry said in a statement.
The statement noted that the latest talks will pave the way for the resumption of tripartite negotiations on Sunday, January 10 in the hope of concluding by the end of January. The difference of opinion is related to the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which broke ground in 2011.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, fears the dam would severely cut its water share. Sudan hopes that the new dam will help regulate the river’s flow.
Ethiopia claims the dam is vital to meet the power needs of its even larger population. It insists that the construction will not affect the downstream countries’ water supplies. Once the dam gets operational, Ethiopia will become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
Last week, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry summoned Ethiopia’s top diplomat over comments by an Addis Ababa official regarding the Nile dam. Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti had criticized Egypt’s stance towards the disputed Nile dam. He claimed the dam dispute had become a distraction from domestic problems for the Cairo government.