Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to create a scientific committee dedicated to the mega-dam built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, putting an end to months of deadlock in their discussions, announced Thursday an Ethiopian minister.
The announcement comes after a meeting of foreign ministers and Irrigation and intelligence chiefs of the three countries Tuesday in Addis Ababa.
The meeting, which ended Wednesday at 3:00 am, ended on a “positive note”, said Ethiopia’s Minister of Energy, Irrigation and Electricity, Sileshi Bekele.
“We have managed to find a number of win-win approaches,” he told reporters in Addis Ababa.
Previous sessions of talks had ended in failure.
Egypt fears that the construction of the Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile, started in 2012 and at a cost of 4 billion dollars (3.2 billion euros), will reduce the flow of the river, of which it depends on 90% for its water supply.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Wednesday welcomed a “breakthrough” in the talks, claiming he received assurances that “Egypt’s share will not be affected”.
“We just want to turn these speeches into procedures (…) so that we talk about specific commitments that we all need to implement and make work,” he said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured Khartoum on May 3, after an interview with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, that his country had “no intention of harming Sudan or Egypt”.
Cairo is particularly worried about the rate at which the reservoir of the dam would be filled.
The scientific committee will be composed of independent experts from universities in the three countries and will focus on the operation of the dam and the filling speed of the reservoir. He must complete his work within three months.
In addition, a French company charged with studying the impact of the dam on the environment will answer the questions of the three countries on 18 or 19 June, Sileshi said.
Representatives of the three countries meet every six months to discuss regional issues such as trade and infrastructure, as well as the dam. The goal is to “make these countries much closer through development efforts,” he added.
The next session of high-level talks is scheduled for July 3 in Cairo.
The Renaissance dam is expected to become Africa’s largest hydropower plant with a production of 6,000 megawatts.
The Blue Nile, which has its source in Ethiopia, joins the White Nile in Khartoum to form the Nile that crosses Sudan and Egypt before flowing into the Mediterranean.