Ethiopia’s government said talks to resolve an impasse over a hydropower dam it’s building on the Nile River reached a “major common understanding” and further negotiations are planned.
A meeting convened by the African Union on Tuesday paved the way for a “breakthrough agreement” with Sudan and Egypt on the reservoir, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said in an emailed statement. The three nations agreed to further “technical discussions” on the filling of the dam, it said.
“We ended with an understanding to continue negotiating to reach an agreement to fill and operate the dam,” Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Twitter.
Ethiopia is close to completing construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, or Abbay River, a main tributary of the Nile. Egypt relies on the larger river for most of its fresh water and has opposed any development that might impact the downstream flow of the waterway — a position echoed by Sudan. Both nations want an agreement with Ethiopia on how quickly the dam is filled to guarantee their water supplies.
Tensions between the three nations ratcheted up last week on reports the reservoir is filling up prior to any final agreement.
Abiy’s office said Tuesday recent heavy rains have enabled Ethiopia to achieve its first-year dam-filling target and that the reservoir is overtopping.
“Current rainfall and runoff situation in the region have made it conducive to fill the dam,” it said. “Ethiopia is committed to a balanced and win-win negotiation that ascertains the Abbay River will benefit all the three countries.”