Nile River dam talks end without final deal

Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (Mabote)

Ethiopia says the final US-mediated talks with Egypt and Sudan over the filling and operation of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have ended in deadlock.

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States Fitsum Arega tweeted on Friday that the two-day negotiations held on February 12 and 13, 2020, in Washington DC ended without agreement.

Mr. Arega did not go into specifics on why negotiations broke down.

The three nations had last month agreed on an initial deal, following talks mediated by the US and World Bank, that the Grand Renaissance Dam should be filled in stages during the rainy season. But more negotiation was needed before the final agreement could be finalized this month.

Egypt said it depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water and says it has “historic rights” to the river guaranteed.

Ethiopia has repeatedly said Egypt’s ‘historical rights claim’ is based on an outdated colonial-era agreement orchestrated by Britain.

Ethiopia also says the GERD project will not cause harm to downstream countries but would provide electricity to over 60 million people.

Once completed, GERD is projected to generate nearly 6000 megawatts of electricity. Ethiopia says the project will have a significant role in economic integrations among the horn and east African countries.

GERD, the largest hydropower project in Africa has reached 70% completion and is expected to be fully functional in 2023.

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