The EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa Annette Weber on Tuesday expressed the European bloc’s readiness to play a greater role in resolving the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Weber’s statements came on the sidelines of her visit to Egypt and the region.
She met with the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We are ready to discuss further, and have sent good signals during our meeting with many Egyptian officials”, she said, adding that they have expressed to be more active in cooperating on water needs.
Weber continued: “Our role is to follow and observe the negotiating process under the umbrella of the African Union, as it is the leader of mediation, and we are observing with the United Nations and US, we do not have an observer team, but we have follow-up experts.”
Ethiopia announced earlier in February the start of producing electricity for the first time from GERD, despite contentions from downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed officially inaugurated the partial commencing of power generation of GERD.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry slammed Ethiopia’s unilateral start of the operation of the Dam, calling it a violation of its commitments under the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister.
Negotiations over the GERD have officially stopped since April 2021, after Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia failed to reach an understanding before the start of the second filling of the dam, which Ethiopia implemented in July.
Cairo and Khartoum reject Ethiopia’s insistence on filling the dam before reaching a binding agreement on filling and operation.
Egypt, which relies considerably on freshwater from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply.
Egypt has also insisted that measures be put into place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam’s filling process.
Egypt and Sudan say they want a legally binding agreement, while Ethiopia says any pact should be advisory.
The two nations consider the dam a threat to their vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it essential for development and doubling its electricity production.
The downstream nations fear possible blows to water facilities, agricultural land, and overall availability of Nile water.
Negotiations over the dam between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have stalled for years, with the three parties ultimately failing to reach any concrete agreement.
The disputed dam is the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, with a cost of more than four billion dollars. The construction of the dam began in 2011. It is considered to be one of Egypt’s most serious water issues.