A second meeting of experts in the series of four tripartite talks brokered by the US government on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will convene in Cairo, Egypt, 2 December. The two-day meeting will be chaired by the Ministers of Irrigation and Water Resources in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia.
The first of the experts’ meetings, held in mid-November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was followed by claims in Ethiopian media that Egypt and Sudan have accepted Ethiopia’s proposal to start filling the dam in June 2020, when there will be high rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands. That meeting involved observers from the US government and the World Bank based on a 6 November agreement reached by the foreign ministers of the three countries to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the controversial dam.
A third meeting is scheduled take place in Khartoum, Sudan, in December while the last is expected in Addis Ababa at the end of December or in early January.
The foreign ministers had agreed in Washington to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers and that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers. The ministers also agreed to work toward completion of an agreement by January 15, 2020, and would attend two meetings in Washington, D.C. on December 9, 2019 and January 13, 2020, to assess and support progress. If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.
Egypt has insisted that Ethiopia should fill the dam reservoir over a period of seven years and release 40 billion cubic meters of water every year. However, Ethiopia wants to fill the dam in 3 years and earlier this year rejected Egypt’s proposal, claiming that it does not “respect current and future rights and development plans of Ethiopia over the Nile and complicates the filling of the dam”.