Egypt on Friday called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene to restart talks on the $4 billion hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan.
Talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were halted once again this week, this time only about a fortnight before its expected start-up.
“The Arab Republic of Egypt took this decision in light of the stalled negotiations that took place recently on the
Renaissance Dam as a result of Ethiopian stances that are not positive,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Hours earlier Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said his country would go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press, .
The latest round of talks, which had started on June 9 over video conference, followed a previous round of negotiations in Washington, which ended without agreement in February.
Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for its freshwater supplies, sees it as a potentially existential threat. It is anxious to secure a legally binding deal that would guarantee minimum flows and a mechanism for resolving disputes before the dam starts operating.
The dam is the centerpiece in Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.