The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Ethiopia, Egypt Agree to Resume Negotiation over GERD

ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to resume the trilateral talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), being built on River Abay.

The agreement to resume the trilateral talks was reached during a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and Prime Minister Ably Ahmed in Cairo.

The construction of the Dam, which is now 90% complete, has been a source of a decade-long diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

The last trilateral talks failed to yield a three-way agreement on the dam’s filling and operations. Cairo insists that Addis Ababa should cease filling the reservoir until such a deal is reached – a position Ethiopia sees as contradictory to previously agreed principles.

Last year, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to settle their differences over the Dam through negotiations while Egypt stalled and used Arab league nations as platforms to criticize the hydroelectric project.

Abiy and al-Sisi “reiterate their mutual political Will”

On Wednesday, the meeting between the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt helped to break the stalemate over the negotiation.

In a joint statement today, the two leaders “reiterated their mutual political will to enhance the bilateral relations between their two countries, politically, economically and culturally.

They will do so, the statement says, “based on the common desire to achieve their mutual interests and the prosperity of the two brotherly people, and which will also actively contribute to the stability, peace and security of the region, and their mutual ability to deal with common challenges.”

Eye Final Deal within 4 months

Abiy and al-Sisi discussed the means to overcome the current stalemate in the GERD negotiations and came to an agreement on two points.

The statement says they agreed to “initiate expedited” trilateral negotiations to finalize the agreement” on the filling of the GERD and the rules of its operations.

The three countries “will do all the necessary efforts to finalize it in 4 months,” the leaders say.

Ethiopia Commits Not to Cause Harm

Ethiopia has been filling the GERD reservoir for the past three consecutive rainy seasons through a gradual process in order to not interrupt river flow to downstream countries.

During the period of the scheduled negotiations, the joint statement says, “Ethiopia has indicated its commitment, during the filing of the GERD within the hydrological year 2023-2024, not to cause significant harm to Egypt and Sudan.”

The filing will be carried out “in a manner that provides the water needs of both countries,” the statement reads.

The process of filling the reservoir began in the 2020 rainy season, collecting a target of 4.9 billion cubic meters (BCM). The following year, the reservoir held 13.5BCM water.

The third round of filling last year brought the volume of water in the reservoir approximately to 22BCM. This year, PM said last week that the filling will not start until the end of August.

The reservoir’s total capacity is 74 BCM.