Top officials of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt announced they were hopeful that the African Union (AU) could act as a broker to end a decade-long dispute over water supplies within two or three weeks.

Iran PressAfrica: Ethiopia, whose Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is worrying its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan, said it would fill the reservoir in a few weeks as planned, providing enough time for talks to be concluded, according to Reuters.

Tortuous negotiations over the years have left the two nations and their neighbor Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir while protecting Egypt’s scarce water supplies from the Nile.

Ethiopian water minister Seleshi Bekele said consensus had been reached to finalize a deal within two to three weeks, a day after leaders from the three countries, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who chairs the AU, held an online summit.

The Egyptian presidency said in a statement after the summit that Ethiopia would not fill the dam unilaterally.

AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a separate statement that more than 90% of issues in the talks had been resolved and that a committee of representatives of the three countries, South Africa, and technical personnel from the AU, would work to resolve outstanding legal and technical points.

The GERD is being built about 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.

Ethiopia says the $4 billion (3.24 billion pounds) hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development. Its Prime Minister’s Office said the three countries had agreed that the Nile and the GERD “are African issues that must be given African solutions”.


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