Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Sunday that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have agreed on filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) reservoir “over a period of up to seven years.”
The Sudanese official said the two-day talks held on November 15 in Addis Ababa between the three states and in the presence of representatives from the US and the World Bank, made progress on some disputed issues.
He said a breakthrough in the talks was reached over the hydroelectric dam, which has generated much tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the past few years.
Ethiopia insists the $4 billion hydro-electric barrage is essential for its economic growth given that most of its population still lives without electricity.
Abbas said last week’s negotiations also tackled the “permanent operations of the dam and its effect on the dam systems in Egypt and Sudan.”
While the spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammed al-Sibai refused to confirm or deny the Sudanese minister’s comments, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Addis Ababa talks discussed filling the dam’s reservoir in stages and based on the hydraulic system of the Blue Nile River.
He said that such technique would help prevent any harm to downstream countries.
Representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are set to meet on December 2-3 in Cairo to continue technical talks over outstanding matters.
On Saturday, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Dina Mufti told Asharq Al-Awsat that any misunderstanding between Egypt and Ethiopia should be solved peacefully.
Egypt states that all Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development. However, Cairo insists that this policy should not affect “its interests and rights in the Nile,” particularly that Egypt relies on the river to cover more than 90 percent of its irrigation and drinking water needs.
Meanwhile, the president of the Arab Parliament Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami said Sunday he had sent a written message to the Ethiopian prime minister and the head of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives announcing the Arab Parliament’s solidarity with Egypt and Sudan in protecting their water security.
In a post on his official Twitter account, Salami stressed the importance of reaching a fair agreement on filling and operating the GERD as soon as possible, and in a way that protects the interests of all parties.