Stalemate as three-country Ethiopian dam talks collapse

Countries unable to agree on impact of controversial dam as construction continues

A breakthrough between Ethiopia and Egypt failed to be realised this week as Sudan hosted a tripartite meeting between the three countries to attempt to break a political stalemate over the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Egypt believes that construction of the $3.3 billion dam which straddles the Blue Nile was begun in violation of international law as Ethiopia did not seek international approval and is has protested that it endangers its own water security. With the dam expected to generated up to 6,450MW of electricity, the country has subsequently requested that construction be halted to allow for negotiations on access to both water and power.

While Egypt attempted to stall its build, French consultancy firms Artelia and BRL were brought in in September 2016 to conduct a studies of the hydraulic, economic and environmental impacts of the dam. Following the publication of the reports results in late-2017, the three countries had stated at the 30th Heads of State and Government Summit of the African Union meeting in January that they had reached a milestone agreement over the dams impact. The Ethiopian government has subsequently stated that the filling of the dam (which is expected to take up to 15 years to complete) will begin this summer.

It has been reported in local media that a 6 April follow-up meeting to the January talks, which included foreign ministers, irrigation ministers and intelligence and security heads, failed to make a breakthrough on several outstanding issues, including details of the study and the filling process.

“The meeting touched on several issues without yielding any specific course of action or definitive results,” Shoukry said. “New efforts to find solutions will be resumed in 30 days in a bid to break the stalemate,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was reported to have remarked in a statement.

Sudanese PM Ibrahim Ghandour was quoted by Al-Monitor as saying that the controversial issues “need more time to be resolved and are left to the technical committees of the three countries to deal with. We have yet to set a new date for another round of talks at the political or security level.”



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