Nile Dam Dispute: For almost a decade, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been engaged in negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Daily News Egypt timeline traces the events of the GERD dispute from 2011 to the present day.
The principal purpose of the decade-long negotiations was to conclude a treaty, governing both the filling of the GERD reservoir and the operation of the dam.
GERD negotiations saga started in 2011, when the Nile Basin downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, expressed concern over the surprise announcement of dam building.
In 2012, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia formed a 10-member International Panel of Experts (IPoE) with two members of each country, including four world specialists to study the Nile dam.
IPoE issued a report after 4 visits to the Ethiopia disputed dam, the panel calls for further studies on economic evaluation of GERD water resource systems, hydropower models.
Also, the panel said that operating rules for existing dams/hydropower installations unavailable, as only a few details on GERD operation were provided. IPoE recommended further investigation into GERD hydrological impacts on downstream countries, calling for “a full transboundary environmental and social impact assessment.”
In 2014, a tripartite committee from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan conducted studies on the dam but are never completed. In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles on GERD.
In 2015, two consultancy firms were contracted to study the dam’s impacts, namely BRLi (France) and Deltares (Netherlands). Later, Deltares withdrew from studies citing concerns about lack of independence.
Until 2017, the recommended studies have not been undertaken. In 2018, the 3 countries established the National Independent Research Study Group (NIRSG) on GERD filling and operation. Afterwards, Egypt presented a balanced comprehensive proposal on the dam satisfying Ethiopia’s development goals.
In 2019, Ethiopia summarily rejects Egyptian proposal after a 2-day ministerial meeting in Cairo, and in late 2019 NIRSG failed to produce an agreement. Then, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan resumed GERD talks under US Treasury and World Bank observation.
12 meetings were conducted from November 2019 until February 2020 on February 2020, Ethiopia refused to sign GERD draft agreement that is initialled by Egypt.
March 2020, Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s statement on unilateral dam filling without agreement. On May 2020 Ethiopia criticised an Arab League resolution that supports Egypt’s position. Egypt stressed that the Nile dam will not be filled without agreement. In the same month, Sudan rejected Ethiopian offer to sign a bilateral agreement, insisting that Egypt should be included. Afterwards, Ethiopia agreed to resume negotiations with Egypt and Sudan.
On June 2020, GERD talks ended without agreement, Egypt filed a complaint to the UN Security Council to prevent Ethiopian unilateral actions on the Nile dam. In the same month, the African Union (AU) brought together three countries’ heads of state to address the dispute.
In July, talks between water ministers from three involved countries resumed under AU supervision, on 12 July the AU-sponsored Nile dam talks ended fruitlessly. On 15 July 2020, Ethiopia announced starting 1st phase of dam filling with 4.9bn cbm. Then, Egypt requested urgent clarification on the filling reports. A few hours later Ethiopia denies GERD filling statement.