Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia resume talks over disputed Nile dam

Nile river flowing through South Sudan. (iStock)
Nile river flowing through South Sudan. (iStock)

The irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have met in Cairo for a new round of talks aimed at resolving a dispute over a multi-billion dam being built by the Ethiopian government.

The two-day meeting, which got under way on Monday in the Egyptian capital, comes almost a month after the three sides agreed to work towards resolving the issue at a US-brokered meeting in Washington, DC.

Talks had previously broken down over rules regulating the dam's filling and operations, necessitating foreign mediation. 

Addis Ababa contends the multibillion-dollar project, dubbed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is crucial to its economic development and, at its peak, will generate more than 6 000 megawatts of electricity.

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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 metres 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.

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