Tripartite ministerial meetings on Nile Dam kicks off in Khartoum

KHARTOUM, Water ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia held meetings in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Saturday to discuss issues regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Ethiopian Water, Energy and Irrigation Minister Selishi Bekele said that the first phase of filling the GERD’s lake would begin in July 2020, pointing out that the meeting tends to discuss the mechanism for filling the basin of the dam’s lake.

For his part, Sudan’s Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasir Abbas expressed hope the parties would reach concrete results on key issues.

Moreover, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammad Abdel-Aty stressed the need to focus the discussion on the issue of filling and operating the dam together with the periods of droughts and desertification.

He further noted that Egypt prefers reaching a comprehensive deal on all issues of the GERD based on the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015 as a reference agreement.

According to a statement issued by the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation received by KUNA, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas tends to offer a consensual vision to fill and operate the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in a way that preserves the rights of all parties and achieves the required regional cooperation.

The statement pointed out that the Sudanese proposal at the recent Cairo meeting had won the approval of the negotiating parties and observers from the US Treasury Department and the World Bank.

Sudanese expert on water issues, Salman Mohamed Salman, told KUNA that the negotiations were centered on filling the lake, which has a capacity of about 74 billion cubic meters, which Ethiopia plans to achieve in a period of 3-5 years, with an annual rate of between 20-25 billion cubic meters annually, which sparked Sudan and Egypt fears.

The Khartoum meeting will be followed by a fourth and final meeting, in Addis Ababa, as part of the road map agreed in Washington in early November with the aim of reaching an agreement to solve the Renaissance Dam crisis by January 15, 2020.

Ethiopia launched the GERD project in 2011 in a bid to provide electricity to more than half of its population and to become the continent’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts. Egypt, however, fears that the speed of filling the Ethiopian dam will adversely diminish its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the River Nile water, as the country depends on the river for 85 percent of its water resources.

The GERD, extending on an area of 1,800 square kilometers, is scheduled to be completed in three years at a cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.

Source: Kuwait News Agency