CAIRO — A tripartite legal and technical committee entitled to draft an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) started meetings on Friday, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said in a statement.
A preliminary draft has been prepared by the committee, the ministry said, adding that the draft includes the three countries’ proposals in one document that identifies points of agreements and disagreements. Ministers of irrigation and water resources of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have also held an African Union (AU)-sponsored video meeting to resume negotiations on reaching a binding agreement regarding the filling and operation of the GERD, the ministry said. The ministers agreed that the meetings of the legal and technical committee would continue until Aug. 28, the Egyptian ministry said, adding that the committee will submit a report to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa whose country currently chairs the AU.
On Aug. 16, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed that the committee would resume talks over the GERD on Aug. 18 and work jointly to unify the texts of the draft agreements. The three countries have been negotiating under the AU over technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD. The 4-billion-dollar GERD has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin since Ethiopia started constructing it in 2011. Ethiopia expected the dam to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.
However, Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its freshwater, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources.