African Experts Support Sudan’s Proposal to Break Deadlock on GERD Filling
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed Tuesday to continue talks on the filling and operating of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as they come close to an agreement on the key legal dispute preventing a compromise.
The agreement on further talks was reached during a videoconference meeting on Tuesday organized by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the head of the African Union and attended by the presidents of Egypt, Kenya, Congo, and Mali as well as Ethiopian and Sudanese prime ministers.
"The summit agreed to continue negotiation in the coming period to narrow the gaps on the remaining issues," said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas in a statement released on Tuesday after the meeting.
Abbas further pointed out the African Union experts who presented a report to the meeting dealing with the legal and technical issues supported a Sudanese proposal on the main issue of dispute: the legal nature of the agreement.
“The experts supported Sudan’s proposal to overcome this issue. (...) as it guarantees the right of Ethiopia to future development, whether it is building (new) dams or other projects, provided that they are implemented under international water law and after informing downstream countries (Sudan, Egypt) of future projects,” he stressed.
The adoption of this proposal means delinking between future development (projects) and the agreement on the first filling and operation of the dam.
Ethiopia refused to conclude a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD saying it would obstruct future development projects on the Blue Nile.
The Ethiopian government plans to build two more hydroelectric projects on the Blue Nile to cover its needs in power and to export it to the neighbouring countries.
However, Egypt which depends entirely on the Nile river to secure its needs in water fears that these projects would further reduce the volume of water it receives every year.