Al-Masry Al-Youm July 29, 2021

Sudan announced that the only way it would continue in negotiations around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is for something to change.

The country claimed that current negotiations under the African Union’s supervision are stalled, as Ethiopia has refused to have AU observers play a larger role in negotations.

Sudan renewed its position calling for itself, Egypt, and Ethiopia to reach a legal and binding agreement on filling and operation.

Moreover, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas announced that he had discussed with the ministry’s technical team Ethiopia’s second filling of the dam, which took place in early July. 

He claimed that the information provided by Ethiopia contradicted with what was revealed after the dam’s filling, specifically in terms of water capacity. The minister pointed to this as reason to enforce a legal and binding agreement to protect the downstream countries. 

Abbas explained that on July 5, Sudan received an official letter from Ethiopia confirming that the filling for the second round would amount to a volume of 13.5 billion cubic meters of water, when in reality, only four billion cubic meters were filled. 

Furthermore, he said, Ethiopia claimed that water would not cross the dam’s middle corridor until the lake is filled in the first half of August, when it clearly has already crossed in July, something that could signal a disaster for Sudan.

Sudan however has taken precautions to avoid such disasters, Abbas said, not in thanks of the information Ethiopia has provided.

The minister praised the technical team that helped to avoid the mistake, and further confirmed Sudan’s position on the importance of accurate information exchange.

Abbas stressed that Sudan still maintains its position on the benefits of the dam, a position that has not changed, but warned that this dam, in the absence of specific and documented information, will threaten the lives of half of the population of Sudan.

Abbas gave an example of Sudan’s Roseires Dam and the dangers it could face if Ethiopia withholds or releases water from the dam without coordination with Sudan.

Abbas referred to another example that occurred last year, when the Nile water level decreased as a result of the dam’s filling and caused a group of water pumps in Jebel Awliya to stop working. 

Abbas said that the legal and binding agreement will allow Sudan to use the Roseires reservoir to store water safely, but without such an agreement, the same dam will threaten half of Sudan’s population living on the banks of the Blue Nile and the Nile.

Abbas said that given the technical importance of this matter, Sudan addressed the UN Security Council, and Egypt reinforced Sudan’s position later with clear demands, namely, the need to change the negotiation structure.

Sudan called to make the current observers, including the US, the EU, and South Africa, mediators in the negotiations.

Abbas concluded that Sudan is not ready to enter into negotiations with the same previous methodology, because it means wasting time. “Sudan fully believes that the only solution in the file of the Renaissance Dam is through serious negotiation that preserve the interests of the three countries,” he said.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm