Brussels — It is important for Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt to reach an agreement on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam GERD before Ethiopia starts the second filling in the current summer season, even if the agreement is transitional, the European Union envoy to Ethiopia and Sudan, Beka Havistan, has stressed.
In a press statement in Brussels, Havistan said that the EU believes in its ability, along with the African Union, to help the three countries to reach a solution for the issue between them now.
He pointed out that Ethiopia is planning to start the second filling this summer, but it is important to reach at least a transitional agreement on the second filling, as there is a need to provide information from Ethiopia and an agreement between the three countries on the technical and practical aspects of operating the dam. Havistan stated that the European Union can play a positive role and assist at the political and technical levels to reach an agreement.
The envoy indicated that there is a lack of technical information; therefore Sudan is concerned that the flow of water may lead to the destruction of infrastructure, a matter which prompts Sudan to demand guarantees that the filling will be safe.
The AU has been sponsoring the stalled GERD negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia since July last year.
As reported by Radio Dabanga this month, Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok, has stressed the need to reach a binding legal agreement about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Hamdok: “This will enable Sudan to go ahead with its development projects and avoid harm that could be caused due to lack of detailed information,” regarding the filling and operation of the dam.
The dam, Ethiopia’s intention to fill it, and the ramifications to Sudan and Egypt downstream have been the subject of sharp and often fruitless negotiations, which are now progressing due to international efforts at mediation.
Last month, 22 NGOs warned of military confrontations between the three countries if the long-running dispute between the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the building, filling, and operating of the GERD is not resolved quickly.
“The project is expected to have profound effects on the future of the three countries and the African sub-region. While it represents an important development opportunity for Ethiopia as its prime owner, the impact of GERD on Sudan and Egypt cannot be overlooked”, their statement read.
GERD: Ethiopia began to build the GERD in 2011 at the source of the Blue Nile, near the border with Sudan, and the dam is currently in the final phase of construction. In August last year, Addis Ababa unilaterally began filling the dam reservoir.
The Blue Nile contributes approximately 85 per cent to the volume of the main Nile River. Both Egypt and Sudan heavily depend on the waters of the Nile to meet the demands of their growing populations.
The three countries signed a Declaration of Principles in Khartoum in 2015 as a basis for negotiations, but no agreement on the use of the Nile waters has been reached so far. More than once, negotiations under the auspices of the Africa Union ended in a deadlock. Recently, the EU and the USA have both expressed their willingness to mediate between the three countries.