Tripartite Deliberations on Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Hanged

Even before the impact studies have been started, officials say 50 percent of the dam's construction has been completed [Reuters]

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour on Friday announced suspension of the tripartite talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia without reaching a consensual solution regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“The will was present and we could have reached solutions, but this is the nature of issues of difference. We need longer time,” Ghandour told reporters early Friday following a closed-door meeting in Khartoum that lasted for about 16 hours. “We left the file in the hands of the irrigation ministers of the three countries, and whenever they see it …fit for us to meet, we are ready,” he added. The minister declined to disclose the differences which caused the talks to be suspended.

A new round of talks on GERD had kicked off in capital Khartoum Thursday. Besides senior officials from Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, the foreign ministers, ministers of water resources and intelligence chiefs from the three countries also attended the meeting meant to foster collaboration and resolve differences on the dam’s construction. The meeting was held after a summit brought together the leaders of the three countries in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in January. The last round of tripartite talks on GERD had ended in November without reaching an agreement on the technical report prepared by French firms about the potential impact of the dam.

In December 2017, Egypt proposed to Ethiopia to have the World Bank act as a neutral party in the activities of the tripartite technical committee, but Ethiopia refused. GERD, which will cost 4.7 billion U.S. dollars, is now 64 percent complete. Ethiopia hopes the project will provide a constant supply of clean and affordable power in the future, and accelerate its shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial powerhouse.But Egypt, as a Nile downstream country, fears the dam would affect its share of the Nile’s waters and lead to a water shortage.

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