Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan talks over Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam progressing

ADDIS ABABA / CAIRO / KHARTOUM — The Ethiopian Ministry of Water issued a statement detailing the agreement reached between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan regarding the divisive Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during a meeting of the countries foreign and water ministers.

After Ethiopia announced it was going ahead with its project to fill the Renaissance Dam in September, Egyptian and Sudanese officials decried the project, which they said would have devastating repercussions for Egyptian and Sudanese water security.

Egypt depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its irrigation and drinking water and sees the dam as an existential threat. Ethiopia views the project as essential for its electrification and development.

International observers worried that the state may be on the verge of war, prompting many international parties to call for negotiations between the three countries to find a common formula to move forward with the dam project.

Tensions spiked recently following Ethiopia’s announcement that it would begin filling the dam’s reservoir. Worsening tensions, U.S. President Donald Trump commented that, ““It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way … They’ll end up blowing up the dam.”

The U.S. also announced in September that it was suspending a portion of its financial aid for Ethiopia, citing a lack of progress in talks and Addis Ababa’s “unilateral decision” to start filling the reservoir.

Talks were restarted last week in the presence of observers from the African Union, during which an action plan was discussed at the direction of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Water’s Sunday statement said that the three countries had agreed to assign six experts, two from each of the three countries, to continue the discussion on the manner of future negotiations and the role of African Union experts in moving the process forward.

Experts will meet on Monday and report to the tripartite ministerial meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the statement said.