Egypt has been seeking to push Ethiopia to conclude a binding legal agreement that spares it the potential negative impact of the mega dam, which Addis Ababa is constructing on the Nile River.
Cairo fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would affect the flow of its annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water especially that it relies on it for more than 90 percent of its water supplies.
In a phone conversation with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stressed his country’s firm position on formulating a binding legal agreement that preserves Egyptian water rights and includes Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt.
The agreement shall define the rules for filling and operating the dam while preserving Cairo’s water rights, he noted.
The African Union has been sponsoring talks among Cairo, Addis Ababa, and Khartoum since July and attended by observers from the United States and the European Union.
For nearly a decade, talks over the operation and filling of the mega-dam have faltered.
The latest GERD meeting was held on Nov. 21 between Egypt and Ethiopia’s irrigation ministers. Sudan boycotted the talks, calling on the AU to change the negotiation’s approach and expand the role of experts.
The ministers agreed to prepare separate reports, including their countries’ visions to advance the negotiations, and send them to South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr. Naledi Pandor.
According to Presidential spokesman Bassam Rady, Sisi received a phone call from Ramaphosa during which both sides discussed and exchanged views on the issue.
Ramaphosa praised Egypt’s efforts to reach a solution on this vital issue and called for coordination during the coming period to work on reaching a fair and balanced agreement.
South Africa’s term ends at the end of 2020 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will take over the AU presidency in 2021.
On Saturday, Sisi also held a phone conversation with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi during which they discussed regional and continental issues of mutual interest.