Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have started the fourth round of negotiation over “the first filing and annual operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)” – the fourth filling of which was completed on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year in early September 2023.
The meeting was scheduled after the parties failed to reach an agreement during the last round of the negotiation which was held in Cairo, Egypt. The rounds of negotiation started following a joint declaration by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in July 2023 in Cairo.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed about the fourth round of the negotiation in a news update it shared on its social media page on Monday. It coincides with the news of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s third term election win.
The three countries started negotiation in 2015 – four years after the project kicked off in 2011. But they were unable to reach an agreement as Egypt has been claiming a “historical right” over the water by making a reference to a colonial era agreement to which Ethiopia was not a party.
“Ethiopia is guided by the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DoP) on the GERD Project. In particular, Ethiopia will continue to advocate for consensual outcomes based on the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the waters of the Nile River,” said the update from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
The Ministry also stated that this round of negotiation was “preceded by a one-day meeting of technical experts from the three countries. The Ministerial meeting will build on the discussions of the previous sessions and continue efforts to achieve convergence by the meeting on 19 December 2023.”
The Ethiopian government announced this year that over 95 percent of the construction project is completed and the entire project is expected to be completed this Ethiopian year. Given the financial situation Ethiopia is facing in light of inability to make an interest payment of $33 million to its creditors, it remains questionable if the project will finalize this year.
Currently, the reservoir of the dam is said to have retained 42 billion cubic meters of water, well over half of the 74 billion cubic meters of water which is said to have been retained when it is completed. The Ethiopian Prime Minister described the fourth filling of the dam as the “final one” and it has not been explained to the public why that is the case.
In the past, Egypt has been implicated in the security crisis particularly in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.
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