The fifth trilateral technical dialogue between water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam begins on Monday in Cairo.
The two-day meeting, which started on Monday, comes almost a month after the three sides agreed to work towards resolving the issue at a US-brokered meeting in Washington, DC.
The meeting sets out “to consult on outstanding issues over the filling and operation of the dam that were not resolved” in the previous meeting, says Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry.
The fourth trilateral meeting was held in Addis Ababa in mid-November 2019.
Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy and his Sudanese and Egyptian counterparts remarked that the meeting will keep on reflecting the spirit of cooperation witnessed in the meeting that was held in Addis Ababa in last November.
The U.S. and the World Bank are attending the meeting as observers.
Talks had previously broken down over rules regulating the dam’s filling and operations, necessitating foreign mediation.
Addis Ababa contends the project, dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is crucial to its economic development and, at its peak, will generate more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity.
But Cairo is concerned the dam, located near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan and approximately 70 percent complete, will restrict its already scarce share of water from the Nile.
Egypt wants Ethiopia to agree to release a minimum of 40bn cubic meters of water from GERD annually. It is also calling for the accompanying reservoir to be filled over a longer period than the four or so years envisaged by Ethiopia, in order to ensure water supplies remain sufficient in the event of droughts.
Analysts fear that the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the dam begins operating.
Sudan is expected to host the next round of the talks on the dam project.