Ethiopia says Sudan, Egypt Unnecessarily Internationalizing Dam Issue

ADDIS ABABA – The government of Ethiopia has accused Sudan and Egypt of unnecessarily internalizing the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Addis Ababa consistently expressed its resolve to stick to the African Union-led process concerning trilateral negotiations on the $5 billion Dam while Cairo and Khartoum push for the EU, US and UN to join the African Union as mediators.

“Ethiopia is committed to applying the motto of “African solutions to African problems,” for the GERD negotiations,” said Dina Mufti spokesperson of Foreign Ministry while briefing reporters on Tuesday.

Sudan and Egypt, on the other hand, are “unnecessarily internationalizing the matter,” he said.

“Ethiopia had to make some concessions to ensure the negotiations turn out successful, such as the willingness to exchange data and widen the role of observers so that they can offer their opinions and separately consult the negotiating parties,” Dina added.

Ethiopia broke ground on the GERD at a site near the Sudanese border in 2011 and construction is already late by four years from its original plan.

But the country filled 4.9 billion cubic meters of water at the dam’s reservoir last year and is planning to fill another 13.5 billion cubic meters in July and August — the main Ethiopian rainy season.

Egypt and Sudan, however, are calling for the signing of a comprehensive agreement before the second-year filling is undertaken.

Last Saturday, Dina said the impasse can be overcome by agreeing on the filling and operation of the dam,” he said, adding: “Then we can proceed to the other issues, including a comprehensive agreement.”

A 2015 Declaration of Principles signed among the three countries gave Ethiopia a prerogative to fill its dam while engaging in negotiations because the second-year filling, which will bring the amount of water to be impounded at the reservoir to 18.4 billion cubic meters, will be necessary to test two of 16 dam turbines.