Jump to navigation


Abiy and Sisi agree to restart Nile dam talks

Hopes for a resolution have been raised after the move to finalise agreement on filling and operation of the long-disputed GERD project

Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to resume talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile river with a view to finalising agreement in four months, according to a joint statement by the two governments on 13 July.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi in Cairo on the margins of the Egypt-hosted summit on the civil war in Sudan, attended by neighbouring countries, and the two leaders agreed to 'initiate expedited negotiations to finalise the agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the filling' of the dam and its operation within four months, the statement said.

Diplomatic disputes between the two countries have been running for years over the hydroelectric dam, primarily due to Egyptian fears that the dam could affect its essential water supplies, while Ethiopia sees it as an integral part of its plans to electrify millions of homes. Under the terms of the disputed 1959 Nile Waters Agreement, which Ethiopia wants to reopen, Egypt was entitled to 66% of the Nile waters and Sudan to 22%.

Prior to the war, warmer relations between Abiy and Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al Burhan had sidelined Sisi in the negotiations over the dam but the political vacuum in Khartoum as the fighting rages has put an end to that (AC Vol 64 No 6, How El Sisi lost the cold war over water).

The huge reservoir, which is nearing completion, has been filled over the past three rainy seasons as the dam wall was built up despite the opposition of Egypt and Sudan.

However, it is not clear how the talks will be mediated and by whom. Efforts by the African Union, United States and United Arab Emirates to mediate in recent years have all broken down.

Related Articles

How El Sisi lost the cold war over water

Closer ties between Addis Ababa and Khartoum sideline Cairo's position on the Nile dam

Egypt, a key player in the Nile Basin, is watching with alarm as the recent rapprochement between Sudan and Ethiopia undercuts its leverage over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam...

Transition starts here

Disputed elections, the shooting of oppositionists and donor worries hasten political change

The ruling party is on the defensive. Its brutal response to opposition protests at election irregularities and the criticism which that has aroused, may mark its transformation. A...

Addis and Tigray return to the battlefields

Tigrayan and federal forces are blaming each other for scuppering the truce and they are right – both sides were planning for more fighting

Ahead of the resumption of fighting in early September, both Tigrayan and federal forces had repositioned their troops as tensions rose amid the faltering peace process. This follo...

    Vol 3 (AAC) No 6 |

Mahmoud Mohieldin

Former Minister of Investment, Egypt. A Managing Director of the World Bank Group

Egypt’s Minister of Investment has shown unusual initiative in tackling the country’s long-running budget deficit. Mahmoud Mohieldin has knocked on doors throughout Asia in search ...

Another dam under fire

The Gibe III dam on the Omo River may threaten Lake Turkana and those who depend on it

A new report claims that Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam on the Omo river could lower water levels in Lake Turkana, in Kenya’s remote and arid northwest, by as much as 20 metre...