Water tensions: Latest talks produce outline agreement on filling Ethiopia’s Grand dam

Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the latter’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), being built on a tributary of the Nile, could ease after extended talks in Washington last week produced an outline agreement on filling the dam and other contentious issues.

Foreign affairs and water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met over 28-31 January, with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank president David Malpass attending as observers.

The meeting was meant to last two days, but was extended for an extra two, Egyptian newspaper Ahramonline reports.

Egypt relies on the Nile for water and has been alarmed at Ethiopia’s planned schedule for filling the reservoir in order to generate electricity.

A joint statement said the ministers agreed on a schedule for a stage-based filling plan of the GERD; a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD in drought conditions; and a mitigation mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in prolonged drought.

Agreement on these issues is subject to the final signing of the comprehensive agreement.

Ministers instructed their technical and legal teams to prepare a final agreement for signing by the end of February.

According to Ahramonline, ministers will convene again in Washington over 12-13 February to approve the final version of the agreement in preparation for signing.

Image: Water ministers met US President Donald Trump during their previous conference in Washington, DC, 13-15 January 2020 (From the Twitter feed of Ethiopian water and energy minister Seleshi B Awulachew)

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