Trilateral Talks over Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam Makes ‘Technical Progress’

ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan said on Monday progress had been made in the recent technical meetings held to resolve a dispute over a huge dam project being built on the river Nile in western Ethiopia.

Foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan – Gedu Andargachew, Sameh Shoukry, Asma Abdallah – met with US’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass in U.S.’s capital on Monday.

It was the second such meeting in Washington since early November.

In a statement issued after their discussion, the top diplomats of the three African nations “noted the progress achieved in the technical meetings among the ministers of water resources in Addis Ababa and in Cairo”.

The trio agreed to host further technical meetngs over the Dam in Addis Ababa and Khartoum.

The multi-billion dollars Dam construction project, near the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, is about 70 percent complete.

Egypt fears the filling of the dam reservoir on the Blue Nile tributary will restrict already scarce supplies of water from the Nile, on which the country is almost entirely dependent. Sudan is also downriver from the project.

Ethiopia says the hydroelectric dam, which will be Africa’s largest, is crucial to its economic development.

– Developing Guidelines –

A joint statement issued by the US Department of Treasury claims the foreign ministers agreed the strategic direction for the next technical meetings should be the development of technical rules and guidelines for filling and operation of the dam.

The meetings should also come up with a “definition of drought conditions, and drought mitigation measures”, according to the statement.

“The rules and guidelines will include drought mitigation measures based upon the natural flow in the given year and water release rates from GERD,”  the U.S. department claims.

The implementation of the technical and guidelines for filling and operation of GERD will be undertaken by Ethiopia in accordance with the hydrological condition of the given year, it says.

“The Ministers of Foreign Affairs look forward to reconvening in Washington, D.C. on January 13, 2020, to review the results of the upcoming technical meetings in Khartoum and Addis Ababa with the goal of finalizing an agreement,” the joint statement concludes.