Cairo hosts new round of talks on Nile dam issue

A trilateral two-day meeting including irrigation ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan kicked off here on Monday with a second round of talks to resolve differences on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), state-run Ahram newspaper reported.

“Monday and Tuesday’s meetings are a completion of Ethiopia’s meeting on filling and the operation of the GERD, which saw proposals on the filling and operations of the dam pushed forward,” the Egyptian irrigation ministry spokesman Mohamed El-Sebaie told Ahram.

“We focus as a priority on rules of filling according to the hydrology of the Blue Nile, therefore the years of filling will be subject to changes, an increase or a decrease, depending on the flood season,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation, Seleshi Bekele, said during the meeting that “his county is completely committed to making the GERD a model for integration and cooperation in the region.”

He added Ethiopia considers the meeting as “important for reaching decisions about the technical problems on the dam in coordination with Egypt and Sudan.”

He added “his country is working on generating energy to eliminate poverty and improve social and economic life for its citizens,” stressing the importance for the Nile River for the three countries.

Water ministers of the three countries, a representative of the World Bank and a representative of the United States attend this round, which is the second of four rounds of negotiations that will end in Washington on January 15.

Khartoum is scheduled to host the third meeting in late December.

Addis Ababa will witness the final round ahead of the trilateral meeting of foreign and water ministers from the three countries in Washington.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, saying will allow it to become Africa’s biggest power exporter. But Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its fresh water, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources of the river.