Tripartite talks between Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt ended Friday with an agreed shortlist of prospective consulting firms to conduct studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) potential impacts.
The meeting took place a day before Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir met the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hossam El-Moghazy, in Cairo on Saturday.
The most recent round of talks on Thursday and Friday was organised to select a consulting firm to carry out studies to analyse the impact of the dam. The talks’ participants also chose a legal firm to follow financial procedures and consultancy relating to the GERD.
The next round of meetings between the three nations is set to take place in Sudan in November.
Egypt and Ethiopia have been locked in a diplomatic dispute over the GERD, with Egypt fearful that the dam will affect its share of Nile water.
Following a meeting between President Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in June, the two countries announced a joint committee would be established to streamline discussions on the GERD. Both nations hailed the agreement as a “new chapter in relations between Egypt and Ethiopia… based on openness and mutual understanding and cooperation”.
During a September meeting, delegates set the standards for the consultancy firm that would assess the dam’s impact in each of the three countries. The procedural rules for the national experts committees were also set.
Downstream countries Egypt and Sudan receive the bulk of Nile water. As per agreements signed in 1929 and 1959, annually Egypt receives 55.5bn cubic metres of the estimated total 84bn cubic metres of Nile water produced per year, while Sudan receives 18.5bn cubic metres. Ethiopia was not part of these agreements.
Earlier this month, Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome told state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram that 40% of the dam had already been built.