Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan trade blame as talks fail


The Kinshasa two-day talks between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the Nile dam have faltered after the Ethiopian delegation blamed their counterparts for obstruction. 

A solution to the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia still remains a riddle. Recent talks hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo have faltered on Tuesday. The talks were to arrive at a roadmap for negotiations before Ethiopia starts filling the dam again in July.  DRC president Felix Tshisekedi who is also the chairman of the African Union was the chief mediator. 

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Delegations drawn from the three countries have met in an effort to break the deadlock experienced in negotiations. Ethiopia has maintained that the massive dam it has built on the Nile River is vital for its economic development and power generation needs. The country of 100 million has been opening up and is one of the world’s most promising economies. Egypt’s foreign ministry communicated that the talks faltered after Ethiopia refused to admit international mediators as part of the process. 

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Ethiopia’s government spokesman Ahmed Hafez rejected any possibility of the European Union, United States, African Union, and the United Nations overseeing those negotiations. Sudan and Egypt have become very concerned over Ethiopia’s position on the Grand Renaissance Dam position. Egypt went further to describe the last round of talks as “last chance” while castigating Ethiopia’s “lack of political goodwill.” 

Cairo is worried over the safety of the dam and how it might endanger its Nile water supply. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned of regional instability of his country’s waters were affected by the dam. The Nile is the longest river in the world and a lifeline to several countries along its path. On estimate, 19 out of 20 Egyptians live within a few kilometers of the Nile’s waters. The river provides 97% of the country’s drinking and irrigation needs. 

Ethiopia and Sudan dispute

Sudan’s foreign minister Mariam al-Sadig al-Mahdi pointed out that Ethiopia’s insistence on going ahead with filling the dam was a violated international law. Khartoum also has a broader issue with Ethiopia over the fertile al-Fashqa region. Sudan is worried over the dam’s safety and impact on water flowing to its dams and water stations. 

David Tshishiku, who headed DRC’s team of experts insisted that the Kinshasa talks were the start of  Tshisekedi's efforts to mediate on the dispute. US ambassador to the DRC, Mike Hammer, also met with the delegation chiefs of the three countries for three straight hours in a bid to advance the stalled talks forward. 

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GERD dam 

The mega-dam will generate 6,500 megawatts of power making it Africa’s largest dam. The controversy around its construction and impact on the region began in April 2011 when the first stone was laid for its construction. In the second phase, Addis Ababa hopes to store 13.5 billion cubic meters of water - three times that of the first phase. The project is being fully funded by the people and government of Ethiopia.