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Ethiopia Signals Coming Dam Agreement Despite Signs of Doubt from Cairo

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele says Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Cairo, under the auspices of the African Union, expect to ink a deal within three weeks on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, nearing completion along one of the main tributaries of the Nile River. He was cited as saying this by the Reuters news agency after top officials from the three countries met via videoconference together with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current AU chair, on Friday. Egypt and Sudan, which obtain much of their water from the Nile, are concerned that the dam, designed for flood control but also for hydroelectric generation, producing enough electricity for Ethiopia to export, will seriously impede the river’s flow. The issue is reaching a critical stage, with Ethiopian officials saying they are ready to fill the dam’s reservoir, which would have an immediate impact on the amount of water reaching downriver. Reuters quoted a spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s prime minister, who said the outcome of Friday’s video-summit posed “no divergence from Ethiopia’s original position of filling the dam,” but also noted a statement issued by the Egyptian president’s office saying that any decision to begin filling the reservoir would not be made unilaterally.