Amid an ongoing standoff over a multibillion-dollar dam project on the Nile River, irrigation ministers of three key Nile Basin countries met in Sudan's capital, seeking to resolve their differences.
The spokesman of Egypt's irrigation ministry, Muhamed El-Sebai, said the ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met on Friday for two days in Khartoum to discuss Ethiopia's $5 billion project. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa, has poisoned relations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The dispute centers on the right to control a section of the Nile that stretches 6,695 kilometers from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean and is the economic lifeblood of all three countries.
The last round of talks held in Cairo last month failed to make progress. Trilateral talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been deadlocked for more than a year before restarting in Cairo earlier in the day. Egypt fears GERD will cut into its share of the river, which provides virtually all the freshwater for the arid country of 100 million people.
Ethiopia, which has the same sized population, says the dam is essential for its economic development. In May last year, the three countries reached an agreement to set up a scientific study group to consult on the filling of the dam. But no progress was reported since then. The dam is now more than 60% finished, and Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon its completion. Egypt received the lion's share of the Nile waters under decades-old agreements seen by other Nile bastion countries as unfair.