Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan held the third round of talks regarding the GERD in Cairo, Egypt, between October 23 and 24.
As was the case in the last round, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the negotiation centered on “the Rules and Guidelines for the first filling and annual operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).” Ethiopia had completed the fourth filling just days before the Ethiopian New Year in early September this year.
A brief update from the Ministry indicated that Ambassador Seleshi Bekele, formerly Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Irrigation and currently serving as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States, led Ethiopia’s delegation to Cairo.
“The three delegations conducted discussions to find areas of convergence to conclude an agreement,” said the Ministry. However, no agreement was reached. At this point, the parties to the negotiation have agreed to meet again in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in December of this year.
The Ministry did not specify why it was not possible to conclude the negotiation. It has been nearly ten years since the three countries initiated talks on the GERD Dam. In 2015, a framework agreement was reached, enabling Ethiopia to continue construction while negotiations on water usage continued.
“Ethiopia remains committed to achieving a win-win outcome based on the cardinal principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile River,” stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
Upon the completion of the fourth filling, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described it as the “fourth and final” round of filling, causing confusion among the public.
The GERD dam was designed to hold 74 billion cubic meters of water without affecting the water shares of lower riparian countries. After the fourth filling, the reservoir contained only 42 billion cubic meters of water. The total number of turbines to be installed was reduced from 16 to 13 under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration, meaning that the intended 6000-plus megawatts of power will not be generated.
When Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde addressed a joint parliamentary session in late September, she stated that the Civil Engineering aspect of GERD would be completed in the current budget year, with over 93 percent already accomplished.
Over 85 percent of the Nile River’s waters originate from the Ethiopian highlands. Egypt has been asserting a “historical right” over the world’s longest river, citing a colonial-era treaty to which Ethiopia was not a signatory. During the second round of discussions in Addis Ababa in September 2023, Ethiopia stated that Egypt’s position made reaching an agreement difficult.
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