The three counties will hold more talks over a contested dam this month after previous negotiations failed to reach a deal.
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed on Sunday to hold further talks this month to resolve their long-standing dispute over Addis Ababa’s massive Blue Nile dam, the Sudanese ministry said. the water.
Previous tripartite negotiations have not resulted in an agreement to fill and operate the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydroelectric project that began in 2011.
On Sunday, the three countries held a new round of videoconference talks in the virtual presence of South African officials, as well as other international observers. South Africa currently holds the rotating presidency of the African Union.
“The meeting concluded … that this week will be devoted to bilateral discussions between the three countries, experts and observers,” Sudan’s water ministry said in a statement.
This week’s talks will pave the way “for the resumption of tripartite negotiations on Sunday, January 10 with the hope of being concluded by the end of January,” he noted.
The negotiations focused on the filling and operation of the giant dam.
Key questions remain as to how much water Ethiopia will discharge downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries will resolve any future disputes. Ethiopia rejected binding arbitration at the final stage of the project.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for around 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, fears the Ethiopian dam could significantly reduce its share of water.
Sudan – which boycotted the talks in November, urging the African Union to play a bigger role in reaching a deal – hopes the dam will help alleviate the flooding, but has also warned that millions of lives will be killed. in “great danger” if no binding agreement was reached.
Ethiopia says the hydroelectric power produced at the dam is vital to meeting the energy needs of its people and insists that the water supply of downstream countries will not be affected.
The Nile, the longest river in the world, is a lifeline that provides both water and electricity to the 10 countries it crosses.
Its main tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, converge on the Sudanese capital Khartoum before heading north through Egypt to empty into the Mediterranean Sea.