Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, President of Egypt, and Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, have resumed negotiations after both stated that they want to reach an agreement within four months on the operation of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia’s GERD has been the source of much debate between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. The three nations have been engaged in negotiations over the past few years regarding the filling and operation of the dam. The negotiations have been tense as Ethiopia had already begun filling the reservoir without a legally binding agreement.
Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hani Sewilam said that Egypt seeks a legally binding agreement on the operation and filling of the massive dam and that there are many technical and legal solutions for the dispute, without elaborating.
Sudan has joined Egypt’s call for binding arbitration, while Ethiopia has remained firm in its refusal and has already started filling the reservoir. Egypt has warned that the project could have catastrophic consequences for the country, as more than eighty-five percent of the Nile’s water comes from Ethiopia.
Egypt is especially concerned about how the three nations would settle future conflicts and how much water Ethiopia will release downstream in the event of a multi-year drought. As the dispute remains unresolved, only 6 miles (10 km) separate the dam and the Sudanese border.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said that the dam is necessary to meet Ethiopia’s energy needs, but also pledged to ensure that the downstream countries are not harmed by the project.
The GERD is a major source of contention between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors, and a resolution is needed to ensure the security of all countries involved.In a press conference in Cairo, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hani Sewilam said that Egypt seeks a legally binding agreement on the operation and filling of the massive dam.