The ministers of water resources and irrigation from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan resumed, on Monday, their online trilateral meetings to address the disputed points related to the Ethiopian hydroelectric Nile dam.
During the meetings, the delegations reviewed viewpoints and proposals for a final agreement. Some technical and legal points, however, remain disputed, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.
The parties agreed to hold two parallel meetings for legal and technical teams, to be followed by separate meetings between each country and observers to the talks.
On Sunday, Egypt announced it has proposed a plan for generating sufficient electricity for Ethiopia which does not harm Egyptian and Sudanese interests. The proposal comes in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles.
Also on Sunday, delegations from the three countries discussed technical and legal issues related to the dam’s filling and operation in separate meetings between observers and representatives of each of the three countries.
Egypt explained its concerns about the disputed issues on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to observers. The country is aiming to bring the various parties’ viewpoints closer together, although the negotiations path has revealed differences among the three involved countries, the Egyptian ministry statement said.
Egypt expressed its support for all development projects in the Nile Basin, including in Ethiopia, so long as they respected international laws and the “no harm” principle.
The three countries entered the current round of talks on Friday under the sponsorship of the African Union (AU), which is currently headed by Presidency holder South Africa. The talks are expected to last for the entire week.
The AU’s Assembly Bureau and representatives from AU member states, the US, and the European Union also are participating in the meetings.
In televised comments on Sunday evening, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aaty said that Addis Ababa is spreading false claims that Egypt gets the lion’s share of the Nile waters.
He revealed that Ethiopia captures 70bn cbm of water in Lake Tana and in front of other dams spread over the Blue Nile. In addition, about 84bn cbm of water are consumed annually by about 100m cattle in Ethiopia.
The minister pointed out that 94% of Ethiopian lands are green, whilst 94% of Egypt is desert. With the lack of access to fertile land, Cairo has resorted to expanding its home desalination projects to manage the use of each drop of water.
The GERD is a large-scale hydroelectric dam project under construction in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region on the Blue Nile River. Construction of the Dam started in April 2011. Egypt has expressed concerns that the construction of the dam could negatively affect its 55bn cbm share of the River Nile’s water.
The River Nile is considered Egypt’s lifeline, with the river providing the most populous country in the Nile River Basin with about 97% of its current water needs.