ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have agreed to resume talks to break a deadlock on the Grand Renaissance Dam reservoir on the Blue Nile, the leaders of the three countries said on Tuesday.
The announcements made separately by Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, Sudan’s Abdalla Hamdok and Egypt’s presidency, followed a virtual mini-African Union summit that was called after they failed to reach an agreement earlier this month.
“The extraordinary meeting… concluded with all parties reaching a major common understanding which paves the way for a breakthrough agreement,” Abiy’s office said in a statement which was posted on Twitter.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chaired Tuesday’s online meeting of the AU, confirmed there would be further negotiations.
“The trilateral negotiations remain on track,” Ramaphosa wrote on Twitter.
Sudan and Egypt both fear the $4 billion hydroelectric dam could lead to water shortages in their own countries.
The project has raised concerns in Egypt that already limited Nile waters will be further restricted. The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile from which Egypt gets 90% of its fresh water.
”It was agreed, at the conclusion of the summit, to continue negotiations and focus for the time being on giving priority to developing a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam,” a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency said.
Ethiopia, which says it needs the dam to generate electricity for its people, has already achieved the first year of filling its dam due to the rainfall season in the area, the statement from Abiy’s office said.
“The dam under construction is already overtopping,” it said, adding that Ethiopia was committed to a “balanced and win-win” negotiation that ascertains that the river will benefit all the three countries involved.