Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan agreed on Friday on the initial schedule for the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) among other key issues. The US Secretary of the Treasury, and the President of the World Bank, participated as observers in negotiations.
Following a four-day meeting for talks in Washington, hosted by the US Department of the Treasury, the ministers of foreign affairs and water resources from the three countries issued a joint statement announcing that they will meet again in Washington on 12-13 February for approving the final agreement.
The final agreement is set to be signed by the end of February, according to the statement of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which said that the schedule was set by the US and Egypt is the only country that signed the schedule.
Mohammed Sebaey, spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, told Daily News Egypt that Cairo’s signing of the initial agreement expressed the country’s good intentions and commitment to reach an agreement, noting that Sudan and Ethiopia may have preferred to wait for the completion of legal, and technical discussions this month.
According to the joint statement, the ministers reached an agreement on the following issues, subject to the final signing of the comprehensive agreement: “a schedule for a stage based filling plan of the GERD; a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years; and a mitigation mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years.”
The parties agreed to finalise a mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in normal hydrological conditions, a coordination mechanism, provisions for the resolution of disputes, and the sharing of information. Moreover, they also agreed to address dam safety and pending studies on the environmental and social impacts of the GERD.
Following the meeting, Seleshi B Awulachew, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia wrote on Twitter, “Documents to be signed will be further deliberated by legal team supported by technical team. This will continue next week to complete comprehensive document within 30 days.”
Ethiopian started the GERD’s construction in April 2011, despite Egypt’s concerns that the construction of the dam could negatively affect its historic Nile water share of 55 bn square metres, which it has had access to since the historic 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan. Addis Ababa denies any intention to harm Egypt’s interests.