Back to the complete issue
Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agree to more GERD talks as last round wraps up without agreement

It’s back to the drawing board on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to hold more talks to break the impasse over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Their goal: a legally binding agreement over the filling of the dam’s reservoir and its operational rules, an Ittihadiya statement said. The decision was announced during a virtual mini-summit that marked the conclusion of the latest round of African Union (AU)-sponsored negotiations, which ended without the countries reaching an agreement.

Ethiopia voices optimism: Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy said on Twitter that the meeting was “fruitful.” “Ethiopia is committed to a balanced and win-win negotiation that ascertains the Abbay River will benefit all the three countries,” the PM’s office said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The GERD has already reached its filling quota for the first year: “It has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that the GERD first year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping,” the statement said. The dam is expected to take between 5-7 years to fill although the exact timeline for this remains one of the key points of disagreement between the three countries. Previous misstatements on the sensitive issue of the dam’s filling last week prompted Ethiopian TV to issue an apology and clarification.

Sudan also kept the tone upbeat: Sudanese Prime MInister Abdalla Hamdok described Tuesday’s summit as a “promising discussion” on Twitter, confirming that the parties had “reached an understanding to continue negotiations that aim to finalize the GERD filling and operating agreement.”

The AU will sponsor the next round of talks, Abiy’s statement noted. Current AU chairman, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Twitter that talks remain on track. There have been no reports of when the next round of talks would resume.

Background: The latest round of talks on GERD were sponsored by the AU, and ran from 3-13 July. They failed to reach an agreement. Ahead of Tuesday’s closing summit Ethiopia’s Water and Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele had said that the initial filling of the reservoir shouldn’t be part of the negotiations and that Addis Ababa would not accept negotiations that will lead to “legally binding” arrangements as they limit the country’s fair and equitable access to the Nile.

The story is leading coverage on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: Reuters | Associated Press | Bloomberg.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.