Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan discuss dam in Blue Nile
Khartoum hosted a tripartite meeting between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan about the Renaissance Dam Ethiopia is building in the Blue Nile, 15 kilometers from the border with Sudan.
The meeting was attended by observers from the United States, the European Union’s Commission, and South Africa.
Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasir Abbas said in a press statement in Khartoum yesterday that the meeting was initiated by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.
Bilateral meetings between Sudan and Egypt on the one hand and Sudan and Ethiopia on the other hand led to yesterday’s tripartite meeting. The participants discussed what is needed to resume negotiations as soon as possible. They also presented their main points of view.
According to Abbas, the discussions took place in a positive spirit, and were fruitful. He expressed the hope that the atmosphere stays good and that consensus will be reached on all outstanding issues.
It was agreed to hold daily meetings, except on Friday and Sunday. They will be carried out through video conferencing at embassies in the three capitals, and evaluated in the beginning of next week.
In response to a question about Ethiopia's plan to start filling up the reservoir behind the dam the coming month, Irrigation Minister Abbas answered: “This is an essential part of the negotiations that we are conducting now. No details can be given at this point, but this is the core of what we are negotiating about.”
Sudan’s official position is based on technical evaluations, and Sudanese interests. “Sometimes our interests converge with those of Ethiopia, and sometimes with those of Egypt. The Sudanese interests, however, do not conflict with the Egyptian or Ethiopian interests,” Abbas said.
Ethiopia started building the Renaissance Dam in 2011 without consulting Egypt or Sudan. Colonial treaties give Egypt a veto on any project upstream that would affect its water levels. Ethiopia, which was not party to these treaties, does not feel bound by these documents.
The Blue Nile provides 85 per cent of all the water in the Nile river. Negotiations on how quickly Ethiopia will fill the dam’s reservoir have been going on for years. Especially Egypt, but Sudan as well, fears a temporary reduction of water availability in the Nile due to the filling of the basin, and a permanent reduction because of evaporation from the reservoir.
At the end of February demonstrators from Blue Nile state protested in Khartoum against the dam.
When completed the 145-metre-high and 1.8-kilometre-long Renaissance Dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa. Sudan is expected to profit from the electricity the dam will generate.
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