CAIRO — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia said Sunday they would resume talks this week over a contentious, massive Nile dam, even as Egypt accused Ethiopia of trying to hinder progress on a resolution to disagreements over the project.
The construction of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which is over 70% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people, has been a friction point between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, the three main Nile Basin countries.
The three countries have been holding talks for years, without reaching a deal. Those talks came to an acrimonious halt in February when Ethiopia rejected a U.S.-crafted deal and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt.
Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Saturday accused Ethiopia of bogging down the talks with a new proposal that it called “worrisome.”
“The Ethiopian proposal aims to scrap all the agreements and understandings reached by the three countries during the negotiations spanning nearly a decade,” said ministry spokesman Mohammed el-Sebaei.
Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt has raised concerns that filing the reservoir behind the dam too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to Egypt.
After months of deadlock, Sudanese, Egyptian and Ethiopian water and irrigation ministers resumed talks last week, with observers attending from the U.S., the European Union and South Africa, which is the current head of the African Union.
Sudan’s Irrigation Ministry said Saturday’s talks focused on technical matters of the operation of the dam and the filling of its massive reservoir during rainy seasons, droughts and prolonged droughts. It said it will craft a draft paper based on Egyptian and Ethiopian notes to be discussed on Monday.