Three African nations resolve issues ahead of filling Nile dam

AP — Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said on Friday they have cleared the way for the filling and operation of a USD5 billion dam project on the Nile River.

In a joint statement issued after four days of talks, the foreign ministers and water resources officials said they had agreed on a schedule for filling the dam, and other key issues.

The final deal is expected to be signed by the three countries by the end of February after the agreement is reviewed, the

statement said. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is around 70 per cent completed and will supply much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s more than 100 million people. However, Egyptian officials have raised concerns that filling the reservoir behind the dam too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to Egypt.

In addition to setting a schedule for filling the dam’s reservoir, the officials discussed developing a system for filling the reservoir during a drought or prolonged dry periods and establishing guidelines for operating the dam during such periods. “The ministers reaffirmed the importance of trans-boundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan,” the officials said in their statement.

In addition to the officials from the three nations, United States (US) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass also participated in the discussions.

The Blue Nile river flows near the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa, Ethiopia. PHOTO: AP