As work continues on Ethiopia’s mega dam on the Nile, Egypt has called for an acceleration of talks aimed at soothing its fears over water shortages.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry complained to a news conference yesterday that talks have been frozen for three years.
"There’s a need to accelerate the pace of negotiations after some three years or more have passed since the signing of the preliminary agreement in Khartoum and things have remained frozen," he said, reports Reuters.
Shoukry’s statement is Egypt’s first response since latest talks ended without resolution on 6 April.
Egypt is at loggerheads with Ethiopia and Sudan over the $4bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydroelectric scheme central to Ethiopia’s ambitions to be a power exporter to the region.
Cairo fears it will cut the flow of the Nile, on which it depends for water.
Shoukry said the three African neighbours are set to meet again on 15 May for further talks, adding that Egypt had proposed several earlier dates for negotiations, but they were turned down by the two other parties.
The countries’ technical committees will meet on 4 May, Shoukry said.
Reported to be at least 60% complete, the dam is being built by Italy’s Salini Impregilo.
It has been a sore point in Egypt-Ethiopian relations since construction began in 2011.
It is not clear what leverage Egypt has in negotiations, since it signed a tripartite agreement assenting to GERD in 2015.
Tensions spiked in November last year when talks over the scope of impact studies broke down.
"We continue to show flexibility and continue in a positive direction, but taking into account that we must achieve the progress that leads to achieving common interests, and also that there is a time frame for all countries that must be taken into consideration," Shoukry said yesterday, reports Reuters.
Image: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile, will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa (http://www.geosociety.org/)