The signing of the final agreement to resolve the Renaissance Dam dispute was again postponed. Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had on two occasions in January delayed the signing of the deal.
“Ethiopia’s stalling is the reason behind the failure to sign the final agreement,” observers told Asharq Al-Awsat.
They said Ethiopia was seeking to pressure Egypt to make more concessions and was also seeking to make more American gains. It will ultimately fail, they said, adding that it cannot stand against Washington’s will.
Foreign ministers and water resources officials of the three Northeastern African countries had held talks for four days in Washington last week to address the issue. They reached a final understanding to sign the deal by the end of February.
The US Treasury has been sponsoring these talks since November, with the participation of the World Bank.
In a joint statement with the US and World Bank, the African officials announced that they agreed on a schedule for the staged filling of the dam and mitigation mechanisms to adjust its filling and operation during dry periods and drought.
The nations still have to finalize several aspects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), including its safety and provisions for the resolution of disputes, the statement said.
Egypt signed a “partial agreement” over the policy of filling the dam and other issues that had been agreed upon. Ethiopia and Sudan refused to sign the document, citing the need for “more consultations”. Cairo is, however, confident that a final deal will be signed by all three countries by the end of February, thanks to the “strong US will.”
They are scheduled to meet again in Washington on February 12-13 to approve the final draft before signing it later this month.
Egypt relies on the Nile for up to 90 percent of its fresh water and fears the dam, which is being built in Ethiopia close to the border with Sudan, will restrict already scarce supplies.
Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.
Dr. Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Asharq Al-Awsat the agreement will most probably be signed, regardless of the obstacles.