The African Union (AU) has called for a meeting on Sunday between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to discuss the long-running standoff caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Dina Mufti, a spokesman for the Ethiopian foreign ministry.
During a press conference in the Ethiopian capital on Tuesday, Mufti said South Africa, the current chair of the AU, called for resuming the negotiations between the three parties after a one-month impasse due to Sudan’s objections to the ways on which the previous talks were held.
He added that the meeting comes as South Africa is racing against time before the Democratic Republic of the Congo takes over the chairmanship of the AU in 2021, reported by Emirati news website Al-Ain.
South Africa has been mediating negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to resolve the dispute over the near-complete dam, which has been of concern to Cairo and Khartoum since the beginning of its construction in 2011.
The GERD talks reached a deadlock in November after Sudan decided to not take part in a tripartite ministerial meeting that was scheduled to discuss guidelines for further negotiations, saying that the way previous talks were held proved to be “unproductive.”
During a phone call on Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi affirmed to South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa Cairo’s stance on the imperative need to formulate a binding agreement with Sudan and Ethiopia on the GERD.
El-Sisi affirmed the importance of a binding agreement that would secure Egypt’s water rights during the filling and the operation of the dam, as the Nile water is an existential matter for Egyptian people.
Cairo fears the massive hydropower project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.
Ethiopia says the 6,000-megawatt dam is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter.