Cairo will host on Sunday a six-party meeting for the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The meeting will gather ministers of water and foreign affairs ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, as part of a new round to discuss the construction of the GERD, its filling, and operating rules.
The filling and operating period of the GERD is the main problematic issue between the parties whose dialogue will revolve around reaching solutions to the issue, amid the Ethiopian insistence on storage within a period of three years while Egypt requests a seven-year filing period.
The meeting was scheduled to be held in August, to reach an agreement on the rules of filling and operation of the GERD, but it was rescheduled after Egypt’s request for it to be held mid-September.
On Thursday, Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs, Hamdy Loza called on European ambassadors accredited to Cairo to brief them on the latest negotiations on the GERD with Ethiopia.
During the meeting, Loza expressed Egypt’s dissatisfaction with the long-term negotiations. He pointed out that Egypt has presented to the Ethiopian side a fair presentation of the rules of filling and operating of the dam.
According to Loza, the Egyptian proposal ensures achieving Ethiopia’s objectives in generating electricity from the GERD while preserving Egypt’s water interests, based on the previous discussions between the two countries and the commitments of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed on 23 March 2015 in Khartoum.
Two weeks ago, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aty said that Egypt has handed over the Egyptian vision regarding the filling of the reservoir of the GERD and its operation during flood and drought times, to Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Egyptian vision stressed the importance of considering the flood situation in a cooperative framework and to achieve the objectives of Ethiopia to generate energy without harming Egyptian water interests.
During a workshop organised last week in Cairo by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the minister said “we hope to agree on the rules of filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which already took a long time.”
He further stressed the importance of reaching a consensus in the interest of the Nile basin countries in order to achieve the goal of development in Ethiopia and not to bring serious harm to Egypt.
Construction of the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa (GERD) started in April 2011. However, Egypt has expressed concerns that the construction of the GERD could negatively affect its historic Nile water share of 55bn cubic metres, which it has had access to since the historic 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt receives about 70% of its water flow from the Blue Nile and Atbara river, both sourced in the Ethiopian plateau, then merge as the main Nile in the northern Sudan.
The Nile flow currently barely supplies 97% of Egypt’s present water needs with only 660 cubic metres per person, one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares. With a population expected to double in the next 50 years, Egypt is projected to have critical countrywide fresh water and food shortages by 2025, according to a study conducted by the Geological Society of America (GSA).