NEGOTIATIONS to ensure that millions of Africans in three neighbouring countries get equitable use of water from the biggest dam on the continent have resumed.
The restart of talks between Ethiopia, hosts of the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam, Egypt and Sudan have pleased the African Union (AU). The dam also hosts Africa’s biggest hydropower plant with a capacity to produce over 6000 megawatts.
The $4.7-billion dam has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters of water and serves Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. The latter two countries depend on the Nile River for their water although over 80% of the river flows in Ethiopia.
At the heart of the dispute is the speed at which Ethiopia plans to fill up the dam. Egypt, whose economy relies on the Nile River, fear the project will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river.
Ethiopia wants to do it in six years but Egypt has proposed a longer period so that the level of the Nile River is not dramatically affected. This disagreement has stalled the talks for four years.
This is why AU chairperson and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa is happy with the progress and has expressed hope as well as satisfaction.
Ramaphosa said following the meeting of the AU Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on June 26, the ministerial delegations of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, supported by technical experts, reconvened on July 3 to discuss the outstanding legal and technical issues pertaining to the GERD matter.
He described the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as one of the largest infrastructure projects on the continent and has the potential to be a catalyst for integration and development in the sub-region.
Ramaphosa said: “The resumed trilateral Negotiations is an indication of the commitment of all parties to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to dialogue as a means toward a peaceful, amicable, and durable solution taking into consideration all the dimensions of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam matter. By this act, the parties have demonstrated their commitment to an African-led process in the spirit of African solution to African problems”.
“I am sincerely encouraged by the initial report I have received, which indicates focused attention by all parties to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in finding solutions, and I wish to further implore the parties to proceed along this path in order to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues”.
President Ramaphosa expects that a report on the outcomes of the trilateral negotiations will be handed to him soon, after which he will convene a meeting of the AU Bureau of Heads of States to consider the report.