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Sileshi Bekele (PhD) (centre), minister of Water, Irrigation & Electricity, and Zerihun Abebe (left), member of the technical committee from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Sileshi Bekele (PhD) (centre), minister of Water, Irrigation & Electricity, and Zerihun Abebe (left), member of the technical committee from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came out of the trilateral discussion between the representatives of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan flustered.

They had concluded the last leg of the two-day meeting held at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Abeba at around 7:00pm on a Thursday. The meeting, focusing on the operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and drought mitigation, ended without consensus and was dominated by recriminations between Ethiopia and Egypt.


Sileshi was especially unimpressed by Egypt’s claim of wastage of water and, more importantly, the new proposal to start filling the dam within the next 12 to 21 years. This was despite Ethiopia’s plan to fill it by next July. Egypt’s harkening back to an earlier argument linking the filling of the GERD, which is planned to generate 5,150MW of power, to that of the flow of the Aswan Dam has been no less hard to swallow for the Ethiopian delegation.

“Under any means of measurement, this is unacceptable,” Sileshi told reporters.





The Egyptian delegates were of the opinion that it was Ethiopia’s fault that the fourth round of discussion, held in each of the capitals of the three Nile Basin countries, had failed. The countries had agreed back in November in Washington, D.C. in a meeting hosted by Donald Trump at the White House, to settle their differences by January 15. If they were unable to, an article of the Declaration of Principles signed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt in 2015 will be invoked, and the matter will be referred to either a mediator or the respective heads of state.

The Egyptian delegation wants Ethiopia to entertain mitigating factors, arguing that the filling of the Dam will cause water supply problems for their country. The continuing deadlock means that the three countries have one last meeting on January 13 in Washington, D.C. to go before the invocation of the article. Steve Mnuchin, treasury secretary of the United States, will be convening the meeting that will take place next week and has already extended invitations to the respective ministers of the countries.



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