Efforts to reach Nile dam joint accord ‘at standstill’: Sudan

KHARTOUM: Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have failed to agree on a unified text on the management of Addis Ababa’s controversial Nile dam, Khartoum’s water and irrigation minister said. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011. Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat to their vital water supplies, while upstream Ethiopia considers it crucial for its economic development and electrification. For the past 10 days, experts from the three countries had sought to merge draft agreements proposed by their respective capitals, and on Friday presented a report on their work, without having reached a unified agreement.
After “an examination of the work of the expert groups over the past days, it has become clear that the process of merging the three projects is at a standstill,” Sudanese Water and Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said after a video conference with his Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts.
South Africa-led negotiations on the mega-dam were temporarily suspended earlier this month after Addis Ababa insisted on linking them to renegotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile. Sudan and Egypt say that a mechanism to resolve any future disputes should be part of any accord. “Reaching an agreement requires political will,” Abbas said, adding that “pursuing negotiations in their current form will not lead to practical results”. — AFP