Talks to resume over Ethiopia dam conflict

Egypt and Sudan have agreed to continue discussions with Ethiopia surrounding the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd). Ethiopia has begun to fill the dam’s reservoir, despite an agreement not yet having been reached on how water supply will be managed.

Talking about the recent filling of the reservoir, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed said: “It has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that the Gerd first year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping.” This is in line with the country’s targets for filling the dam, despite Egypt warning that it should be delayed until an agreement has been reached.

The £3bn Dam is constructed on the Blue Nile, the largest tributary of the Nile river, It meets the White Nile in neighbouring Sudan, before flowing into Egypt. While the primary purpose of the dam is to provide clean electricity for almost 60% of Ethiopia’s population, with the ability to export surplus energy to Sudan, it also provides a level of water security that would not have been possible before.

However, with the Nile being the primary source of water for all three countries, being able to control the supply is a huge political advantage. Egypt gets around 90% of its water from the Nile and is concerned about the impact the dam could have on its water security. After previous African Union (AU) meetings failed to result in an agreement between the three states, negotiations will now continue. An Egyptian government statement said that these discussions must focus on “developing a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating” the dam.

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Henry Webb

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December 2021
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