African Union Announces Failure of Latest Talks on Ethiopia’s Nile Dam

The African Union has announced that the latest round of talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have yet again failed.

Naledi Pandor, the international relations and cooperation minister of South Africa, who also is the current chair of the African Union, expressed regret over the deadlock the talks have reached.

Pandor said the outcome of the latest round of talks will be referred to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the African Union, for necessary measures.

Meanwhile, Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasir Abbas said Sudan cannot continue with the negotiations without a proper agreement.

“We cannot continue with this vicious cycle of circular talks indefinitely given the direct threat posed by the GERD to Sudan’s Roseires Dam, the storage capacity of which is less than 10 percent of that of the GERD, if it is filled and operated without agreement or daily exchange of data,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

A strong protest was filed by Sudan to both Ethiopia and the African Union, sponsor of the GERD talks, over the letter sent by the Ethiopian irrigation minister to the African Union, Sudan and Egypt on January 8 in which he announced Ethiopia’s intention to continue filling the GERD on July 2 whether or not an agreement was reached.

Earlier in the day, a meeting of ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation of of all three countries was convened and chaired by South Africa, to discuss their differences on GERD in order to reach a decisive agreement regarding the rules of filling and operation of the dam.

With the African Union mediating, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been negotiating over legal and technical issues which relate to the filling and operation of the GERD.

The negotiators from Sudan believe that the GERD talks should not be limited to the level of irrigation ministers, but that the African Union and the leaders of the three countries should be actively involved to provide political will and to bring their positions closer.

Ethiopia is expecting to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the project, while Sudan and Egypt are concerned that the dam might affect their water resources. Both countries are downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater.

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