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Ethiopia Delays Signing of Final Agreement on GERD: Ethiopian Minister

By Staff Reporter

GERD-talksFebruary 6, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy Dr. Engineer Sileshi Bekele said Ethiopia has delayed the final agreement it was supposed to sign with Egypt and Sudan on filling and operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Briefing journalists on Wednesday, Sileshi said Ethiopia successfully negotiated the technical issues but it needs the legal aspects of the GERD talks amended and hence it wanted the agreement to be delayed.

In a recent address to the parliament, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the negotiation between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan did not get signed last week because he ordered the Ethiopian negotiating team not to do so.

Sileshi said the three countries dealt with four major documents on which they sorted out major differences in technical issues that agreed to resolve them.

“There were minor issues that are yet to be resolved but they do not hinder the countries to sign the final agreement,” he added.

Unlike information circulated by social media, the planned agreement will not affect Ethiopia’s right of using the water in the future Sileshi said, adding seasoned Ethiopian legal experts are working exhaustively on the preparation of the legal frameworks.

Sileshi further said the comprehensive legal document is expected to be e readily available by the end of February 2020 and the three counties would sign the agreement should both the technical and legal frameworks are ready.

According to the minister, the legal provisions will include issues related to legal settlements of differences, coordination mechanism and data exchange on GERD.

If Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt agree on the planned agreement, it will mark the end of eight-year-long negotiations over the $5+ billion GERD project.

Despite lengthy negotiations, however, the three Nile Basin countries have been unable to reach a final agreement until recently on issues related to water filling time and operation of the hydropower dam.

Over the past couple of months, the three countries have been holding negotiations in the presence of two big observers - the US and the World Bank -- who have been pressing for quicker agreement between the three countries.

 A “win-win solution” is where the negotiations between the three countries should lead to, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the parliament early this week.

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