Ethiopia announced on Saturday that it has initiated a second round of negotiations with Egypt and Sudan regarding the controversial Renaissance Dam it built on the Nile River. The dam continues to be a source of tension among the three nations. The dam has been at the center of a regional dispute since Ethiopia commenced construction in 2011.
Ethiopia declared the completion of filling the Renaissance Dam on September 10th, prompting immediate condemnation from Cairo, which deemed this action illegal.
Egypt and Sudan view the dam, which cost $4.2 billion, as a threat to their water supplies. They have repeatedly called on Addis Ababa to halt its filling until an agreement on its operation is reached.
Negotiations between the three countries resumed on August 27th, after a hiatus since April 2021. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had agreed in July to finalize the agreement within four months.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on the website of Xinhua News Agency on Saturday that “the second round of the tripartite negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan on the annual operation of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has begun today on September 23, 2023, in Addis Ababa.” Ethiopia affirmed its commitment to finding an amicable negotiated solution within the ongoing tripartite process.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, stated, “Despite the unilateral practices of our brethren in Ethiopia, Egypt remains sincerely engaged in the ongoing negotiation process.” He emphasized, “We are still waiting for Ethiopia’s genuine engagement and sincere effort to reach an agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia,” underscoring that “there is no room for misconceptions about the possibility of imposing a fait accompli when it comes to the lives of more than 100 million Egyptians.”
It is worth noting that this dam has been at the center of a regional dispute since Ethiopia began construction in 2011. Egypt relies on the Nile River to secure 97% of its water needs. On the other hand, this dam is integral to Ethiopia’s development plans. In February 2022, Addis Ababa announced that it had commenced electricity generation for the first time. When fully operational, the massive hydroelectric dam, measuring 1.8 kilometers in length and 145 meters in height, is expected to produce over 5,000 megawatts, potentially doubling Ethiopia’s electricity production, currently catering to only half of the country’s population of 120 million people.
UN estimates suggest that “water could run out in Egypt by 2025,” and regions in Sudan, where the Darfur conflict was primarily linked to water supplies, are increasingly susceptible to drought due to climate change.