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Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia conclude GERD negotiations


Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia conclude GERD negotiations

Ethiopias GERD dam on the Nile
Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

Today marks the end of the negotiation period for Egypt and Ethiopia to reach an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Last week, irrigation ministers from both nations unsuccessfully resumed tripartite talks—mediated by Sudan and brokered by the US and World Bank—after February negotiations broke down over Ethiopia’s unilateral rigidity. While Addis Ababa wants to flood GERD at the onset of July’s rainy season to boost revenue, Cairo demands to be involved in the decision as the pace of progress will affect the flow of the Nile River upon which Egypt is so dependent.

Tensions have been compounded by Ethiopia’s attempts to re-negotiate terms finalised in February. Water supplies in Sudan, through which one of the Nile’s largest tributaries passes en route to Egypt, would certainly be affected if Ethiopia insists on filling the hydropower dam without multilateral consent.

Expect the conciliatory capacity of negotiators to be overshadowed by Addis Ababa’s insistence on its July timeline and lack of legal obligation. While last week’s events indicate that compromise is increasingly unlikely, a diplomatic resolution will be encouraged by both Washington and Beijing, the latter of which has established a $1.2 billion credit line to fund GERD’s infrastructure. The impact of climate change will likely raise the stakes for the Nile’s water distribution in the long-term.

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