UN notes readiness for involvement in Ethiopian dam talks

Mohammed El-Said
2 Min Read
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile River raises tensions between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed the organisation’s readiness to play a role in the ongoing negotiations over the controversial giant Ethiopian dam.

“The UN is available to support and participate in the African Union-led negotiation process on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),” Guterres said in a telephone conversation with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry.

Guterres offered the UN’s availability to mediate in the talks at the invitation of the African Union (AU) Chairperson and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi. The UN head’s offer is borne of the hope that the process will count on the full engagement of the parties in serious negotiations.

The UN head’s statements came just two days after Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti made remarks during the ministry’s weekly press conference. He said that “the tendency to invite various parties as mediators to the issue, while the AU-led negotiation has not been finalised, is demeaning the efforts of the AU”.

Mufti made his remarks on Wednesday in response to calls by Sudan and Egypt for the formation of an international quartet, led and managed by the DRC, in its capacity as the current chair of the AU. The quartet should also include the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the United States (US) to mediate in negotiations.

The Ethiopian official stressed that his country is negotiating in good faith, hoping that the negotiations could bring a win-win solution to all parties involved in the issue. 

Ethiopia, which started building the GERD project in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 MW of electricity from the project. Meanwhile, Egypt and Sudan, both of whom are downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater, are concerned that the dam might affect their water resources.

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.