CAIRO, Foreign and water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to meet in Washington on Jan. 28-29 to reach “a final agreement,” aimed at paving the way for the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on their shared Nile river, Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
“More consultations among legal and technical experts from the three countries with representatives of the U.S. and the World Bank will be carried before the final meeting in Washington,” Ahmad Hafez, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said.
The foreign ministers and water resources officials of the three countries reached a preliminary deal on Wednesday after three days of meetings in Washington with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass, he added.
They also met with the U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
“The ministers agree that there is a shared responsibility of the three countries in managing drought and prolonged drought,” a joint statement late Wednesday said.
The GERD that has been constructed since 2011 on the Blue Nile in the northern Ethiopia highlands is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.
However, Egyptian officials are concerned that filing the reservoir behind the dam too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to Egypt.
Ethiopia wants to fill the reservoir whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters in five to six years, while Egypt seeks to prolong the period to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.
“The ministers recognize the significant regional benefits that can result from concluding an agreement with respect to trans-boundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration,” the joint statement added.
It added that the filling will take place during the wet season, generally from July to August, and will continue in September based on certain conditions.
They agreed that an effective coordination mechanism and provisions for the settlement of disputes will be established.