There has been little progress in the stalemate over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to the Ethiopian government as it continues lengthy and oft-contentious negotiations with Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that the three nations have been unable to resolve their differences over access to Nile River water resources, a concern of the downstream nations as Ethiopia presses ahead with its plans for the hydropower dam.
Launched in 2011, the GERD project is expected to deliver 15,000 GWh per year in much-needed energy for Ethiopia – an achievement championed by President Abiy Ahmed and his administration because some 60 percent of Ethiopians still lack basic access to electricity. Yet it leaves Egypt and Sudan concerned about agricultural and other impacts once Ethiopia begins to fill the dam, a process it hoped to begin this month as the rainy season arrives.
That’s because the affected Blue Nile contributes about 85 percent of the water, meeting in Khartoum at its confluence with the White Nile before winding its way to Cairo and the Mediterranean Sea.
Seleshi Bekele, the Ethiopian water minister, said the results of talks held for the past 11 days will be forwarded for review to the African Union, which has stepped in to try and help broker the elusive deal. He says there has been progress but “no breakthrough deal” and expects negotiations will continue.
Although the years-long argument has remained diplomatic, Egypt and Ethiopia have threatened the use of force in the past as frustrations over the Nile resources simmer.
Image: Government of Ethiopia file