Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will agree a deal to fill the giant Blue Nile dam in two to three weeks, following mediation by the African Union to broker a deal to end a decade-long dispute over water supplies. Tortuous negotiations over the years have left the two nations and their neighbour Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir, while protecting Egypt’s scarce water supplies from the Nile river.
What
  1. Ethiopia’s water minister, Seleshi Bekele, said that consensus had been reached to finalise a deal within two to three weeks, a day after leaders from the three countries and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, held an online summit.
  2. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built about 15 km (nine miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.
  3. Ethiopia says the $4 billion hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development.
  4. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister’s Office said that the three countries agreed that the Nile and the Grand Renaissance Dam “are African issues that must be given African solutions.”
  5. The deal to delay the filling, brokered by the African Union, ends months of stalled negotiations and signals the intention to solve the issue without foreign intervention.
  6. Ethiopia’s statement said the African Union, and not the UN Security Council, will assist the countries in the negotiations and provide technical support.
  7. Cairo had appealed to the Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move aimed at stopping Ethiopia from filling the dam. The Council was expected to hold a public meeting on 29 June 2020 to discuss the issue.
Flashback
  1. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), formerly known as the Millennium Dam, is under construction in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile River.
  2. It is located about 40km east of Sudan. The project is owned by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO).
  3. The site of the dam was identified when the US Bureau of Reclamation first made a survey of the Blue Nile river between 1956 to 1964.
  4. The planning phase of the project was carried out under a name called Project X, which was later changed to Millennium Dam and finally to its present name.
  5. As of October 2019, the work stood at approximately 70% completion.