Egypt hosts Sudanese and Ethiopian technical teams in Cairo today for the second round of US-brokered talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Agreement has been glacial since construction of Ethiopia’s $4 billion mega-dam began in 2011. Egypt fears the dam will reduce its water supply. This meeting will focus on how much water would be allowed to flow from the dam onto the downstream Sudanese and Egyptian sections of the Nile River. Egypt and Sudan want 40 and 35 billion cubic metres of water, respectively, to be released from the dam’s reservoir while Ethiopia proposes only 31 billion.
There is optimism for further progress today, especially from Ethiopia, after the three nations agreed in the first meeting to start dam-filling in June 2020 and for it to be dependent on flood and drought seasons.
Egypt has also decreased its water demands from 55 billion down to 40 billion cubic metres suggesting a compromise is possible. Agreement on this point would be a major breakthrough as it has been at the heart of Egyptian objections for years. Failure would likely increase pressure in the final two meetings in these negotiations and increase the prospects for outside mediation—probably by the US but Russia is also interested—in early 2020.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.