By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Ethiopia has resumed talks with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive hydroelectric dam that Addis Ababa has built on the Nile River.
The dam has been a source of tensions among the three nations for years, as Egypt and Sudan fear it will severely reduce the share of Nile water they receive. Ethiopia, on the other hand, sees the dam as essential to its development plans.
In July, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed to finalize a deal on the dam within four months. Negotiations resumed in August, and the three countries opened a second round of talks in Addis Ababa on Saturday.
“Ethiopia is committed to reaching a negotiated and amicable solution through the ongoing trilateral process,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Negotiations over the dam since 2011 have thus far failed to bring about an agreement. Egypt has long viewed the dam as an existential threat, as it relies on the Nile for 97% of its water needs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, said that Cairo wanted a “binding agreement” on the filling and operation of the dam.
The dam is central to Ethiopia’s development plans. In February 2022, Addis Ababa announced that it had begun generating electricity from the dam for the first time.
At full capacity, the GERD could generate more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, doubling Ethiopia’s production and providing much-needed power to millions of people who currently do not have access to it.
The position of Sudan, which is currently mired in a civil war, has fluctuated in recent years.
The United Nations says Egypt could “run out of water by 2025” and parts of Sudan, where the Darfur conflict was essentially a war over access to water, are increasingly vulnerable to drought due to climate change.
The outcome of the current talks is uncertain, but a successful agreement would be a major breakthrough in the long-running dispute over the GERD.