Hopes alive to restart Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks

The Grand Renaissance dam in Ethiopia

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdouk expressed his determination to reignite trilateral talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the contentious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which is currently under construction on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia.

Recently during a phone conversation with the US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchen who was appointed to facilitate discussions between the deadlocked nations, Hamdok stated he would soon visit Cairo and Addis Ababa to “urge the two parties to resume negotiations on the Renaissance Dam and complete the remaining important outstanding issues”.

Hamdok and Mnuchin agreed that “the issue of the Renaissance Dam is very urgent and should continue to be negotiated as soon as the world has overcome the Corona pandemic disaster”.

Also Read: Construction of GERD’s saddle dam now fully complete

Hamdok’s pledge comes merely a month after Ethiopia’s absence from talks in Washington DC to agree on terms over its US$4.8b project, citing a need for more time to consult relevant stakeholders. The country had previously accused the U.S. of overstepping beyond its role as an observer.

The beginning of the differences between the three countries over the GERD

The differences between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam. Egypt voiced its concern over the GERD saying it will essentially give Ethiopia a button to control the Nile River. Recently, the former has also argued that the current proposals for timescales to fill the dam are too rapid and could interfere with its share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of water leaving the country with insufficient water for domestic and commercial use for decades

As a result, Egypt is calling for an extension of the amount of time required to fill the dam, something Ethiopia is seriously against due to incoming pressure from stakeholders and the public to achieve its production target.

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