CAIRO: A meeting on Sunday about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) failed to make any progress, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The six-party meeting was held to discuss a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the GERD.
Ethiopia hopes the dam will turn it into Africa’s top hydropower supplier. Egypt and Sudan, however, fear it will substantially reduce their water share and affect development prospects.
“The meeting failed to achieve any progress due to disagreements over how to resume negotiations and aspects related to managing the negotiation process,” the ministry said.
“Sudan insists on the necessity to mandate the experts appointed by the African Union Commission to present solutions to the issues of disagreement which Egypt and Ethiopia are unsure about.”
Its statement added that the reservation came as a confirmation of the three countries’ commitment to the negotiation process and to preserve their right to formulate the texts and provisions of the agreement to fill and operate the dam.
According to the statement, Egypt confirmed its readiness during the meeting to engage in serious and effective negotiations in order to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam.
South Africa’s minister of foreign affairs, Naledi Pandor, expressed regret that the hoped-for breakthrough in the negotiations had not been achieved and said she would submit a report to the president on the talks and their results.
Among those taking part in the meeting were Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian minister of foreign affairs, Mohammed Abdel Aty, Egyptian minister of water resources and irrigation, and the foreign and water ministers of Sudan and Ethiopia. It was headed by Pandor, who is the current chairperson of the African Union’s executive council.
Sudan called for a change in the negotiation methodology to give the African Union experts a greater role to bring the views of the three countries closer.
Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas said: “We cannot continue in this vicious circle of indefinite discussions, given the direct threat that the dam represents to the Roseires Reservoir, whose storage capacity is less than 10 percent of the GERD's capacity if the filling and operation are done without agreement and the daily exchange of data.”
He added that Sudan had strongly protested a letter sent by the Ethiopian minister of irrigation to the African Union, Egypt and Sudan on Jan. 8, in which he affirmed Ethiopia’s intention to continue filling the dam in July regardless of whether an agreement was reached or not.
The three countries have held several rounds of talks since Ethiopia launched the GERD project in 2011, but are yet to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam’s huge reservoir.