Egypt has proposed excluding Sudan from contentious negotiations over the future of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa, according to an Ethiopian newspaper.
The Egyptian proposal, sent by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has suggested the talks proceed with Ethiopia alone, Addis Fortune newspaper reported.
Egypt has been at odds with its neighbours over the $4.8bn megaproject, with Cairo fearing that its position downstream may affect its access to water from the Nile River basin, which will feed the dam.
“Egypt, in a tense situation with both Sudan and Ethiopia, proposed for Sudan’s exclusion from the negotiations and to proceed with Ethiopia only, a country that shares its view on the issue as ‘a matter of life or death,'” the newspaper reported.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry left for Ethiopia on December 25 “to put forward a proposal to break [the] impasse” in the talks, the ministry said on Twitter.
Shoukry heads to Addis Ababa to put forward proposal to break impasse in the GERD talks. Once again Egypt calls for full respect of all provisions of the Declaration of Principles. Priority to cooperate & build confidence, while preserving Egypt’s legitimate water interests.
— Egypt MFA Spokesman (@MfaEgypt) December 25, 2017
Shoukry met with Desalegn in Addis Ababa, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Egypt also proposed getting the World Bank involved in the negotiations “as a technical party with an impartial view”, the ministry said in a statement.
Water rights and use of the Nile’s water supply remain highly contentious issues, as nearly a quarter of a million people rely on the river.
Under construction since 2011, the dam megaproject is about 60 percent complete.