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Thursday, 10 June 2021

The clock is ticking

Egypt and Sudan have again called for the international community to push Ethiopia to restart negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), as time runs out before Addis Ababa resumes filling the dam in the coming weeks. In a joint statement yesterday, the two countries warned of “serious risks and grave consequences” if Ethiopia continues to fill the dam without an agreement in place, and agreed to coordinate efforts “at the regional, continental and international levels to push Ethiopia to negotiate seriously." This came following a meeting in Khartoum between the Egyptian and Sudanese foreign and irrigation ministers.

Ethiopia is expected to resume filling the reservoir when the rainy season starts in July or August, and with African Union-led talks on hiatus and nobody stepping internationally to bolster mediation efforts tensions between the three countries are rising.

It’s not just the weather that dictates when Addis Ababa begins the filling though, as Arab Water Council President Mahmoud Abu Zeid reminded us last night. In a conversation on Yahduth fi Masr, Abu Zeid said that Ethiopia can only proceed with the filling after raising the GERD’s reservoir spillway by 30 meters — a procedure Addis Ababa is finding challenging (watch, runtime: 6:03). Ethiopia has so far managed to only raise as much as six meters of the spillway, which is not enough to hold the 13.5 bn cubic meters of water that is supposed be held after the second phase of the filling this summer, Abu Zeid said. Another analyst suggested that Ethiopia could wrap up the process by the end of June in time for the rains.

The news getting attention in the foreign press this morning: Reuters | Associated Press.

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