September 18, 2019 (GMN) - Egypt says Ethiopia has “summarily rejected” its plan for key aspects of operating a giant dam the East African nation is building on the Nile while dismissing Ethiopia’s own proposal as “unfair and inequitable”.
The comments in a note circulated to diplomats last week show the gap between the two countries on a project seen as an existential threat by Egypt, which gets around 90% of its freshwater from the Nile.
The note distributed by the Egyptian foreign ministry points to key differences over the annual flow of water that should be guaranteed to Egypt and how to manage flows during droughts.
It comes as Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met on Sunday and Monday for their first talks over the hydroelectric dam in more than a year. A spokesperson at Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, Nebiat Getachew, said on Monday the meeting had so far produced no agreements or disagreements and gave no immediate response to the Egyptian claims.
Egyptian officials were not immediately available for comment, but after the talks, an Egyptian water ministry statement carried by local media said the meeting had been limited to procedural rather than substantive issues.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has expressed unease in recent days over delays in negotiations.
The $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was announced in 2011 and is designed to be the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts.
In January, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister said that following construction delays, the dam would start production by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.
The dam promises economic benefits for Ethiopia and Sudan, but Egypt fears it will restrict already stretched supplies from the Nile, which it uses for drinking water, agriculture, and industry.