Sudan flat out refuses to touch upon the issue of Nile water quotas at negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as they are aimed at the discussion of the dam’s exploitation only, Yassir Abbas, the Sudanese minister of irrigation and water resources, said in a statement circulated by media.
According to the statement, Abbas held a meeting with Emmanuelle Blatmann, the French ambassador to Sudan, during which the minister said that his country had supported the dam because of Ethiopia’s right thereto in compliance with international water law, and expected benefits for Sudan from the project.
Abbas added that the negotiations with Addis Ababa on the dam had been limited by the issue of filling its reservoir and exploitation. However, last July Ethiopia changed its stance and started the discussion of Nile water quotas, which Sudan rejected.
Khartoum will not enter any negotiation unless the framework is changed, as the dam issue has become more complicated and political rather than technical, the minister specified.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been under construction since 2012 and would become the largest dam in Africa when completed. However, the project triggered disputes with Egypt and Sudan that both fear would undermine their water security. The talks between the three countries on a final agreement that would resolve all contradictions on the use of the Nile’s water and the dam’s work have repeatedly hit a deadlock.
In July 2020, Ethiopia unilaterally began the first stage of filling the dam’s reservoir without any preliminary agreement with Egypt and Sudan, which created fresh tension between Cairo and Khartoum on the one side and Addis Ababa on the other. Ethiopia plans to begin the second stage this summer after seasonal rains. In June, Egypt and Sudan asked the UN Security Council to convene a meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting will take place later this month.
Nile water quotas is another matter of concern connected with the dam. In 1959, Egypt and Sudan signed the bilateral water agreement, repeatedly criticized by other Nile countries as it does not include them. The deal provides quotas for each country’s annual use of Nile water. The two countries — especially Egypt, which relies on Nile for as much as 90% of its fresh water — strongly oppose any change to the quotas, and express concern that the dam could cut them back.