Egypt has said that talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the operation of a $4bn hydropower dam that Ethiopia is constructing on the Nile have reached a deadlock. Egypt blamed Ethiopia for the impasse and called for international mediation.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), announced in 2011, is designed to be the centrepiece of the Horn of Africa country’s bid to become the continent’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts.
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“The negotiations on the Renaissance dam have reached a deadlock,” Egypt’s irrigation ministry said in a statement on Saturday after a new round of talks ended in the Sudanese capital.
It claimed the Ethiopian delegation “rejected all the proposals that take Egypt’s water interests into account” and presented one that “lacked guarantees” on how to deal with droughts that may occur in the future.
Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water and says it has “historic rights” to the river guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.
Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said Egypt was looking forward to an “instrumental role” by the US in the talks. He said because there was no breakthrough in negotiations, there was a need for an “international instrumental role to overcome the current deadlock.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday the US supports Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan’s negotiations to reach a sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement.
Ethiopia responded by dismissing Cairo’s assessment of the latest talks.
“The allegation that talks ended in a deadlock is completely false,” Ethiopian minister for water and energy, Selishi Bekele, told reporters.
“Some progress has been made… there are some pending issues, but we believe that these pending issues can be solved before completing the construction of the dam.”
Ethiopia in a statement later on Saturday blamed Egypt for the failure of the talks, claiming Egypt’s delegation applied a “disruptive tactic to halt the hydrology, environmental and social impact assessment” on the project.
Egypt’s proposal for international mediation was “an unwarranted denial of the progress in the trilateral technical dialogue” that “goes against the consent and wishes of Ethiopia and the Sudan,” it said.
Analysts fear that the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the dam begins operating.