A meeting had been called to figure out how not to affect the flow of water to Sudan and Egypt, which rely heavily on the Nile. It ended inconclusively on Thursday.
The talks, first proposed by the US and supported by the World Bank, were meant to ensure that Ethiopia’s $5 billion dam on the Blue Nile fills up for its planned irrigation and hydroelectric power production, without affecting water supply to Sudan and Egypt.
In Addis, Ethiopia and Egypt disagreed on the time needed to fill up: Ethiopia wanted seven years and Egypt wanted 12 to 21 years.
“The Egyptian template…is unacceptable to us,” said Ethiopian Minister of Water and Irrigation Seleshi Bekele. He added that that the country will begin filling the dam in July.
His Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Abdel-Atti stuck to a previous proposal to progressively fill the dam, enabling Ethiopia to generate hydroelectric power.
The proposal included provisions for drought mitigation, which may coincide with the period of filling the dam, as well as fair and balanced operating rules that enable Addis to generate electricity while maintaining the operation of Al-ssad Al-ally Dam in Egypt.
Cairo and Khartoum say that any faster filling of the dam could expose downstream countries, and Egypt said they are already facing a water shortage of 21 billion cubic metres.
Ministers from the three countries are expected meet in Washington next week to continue the talks. The US and the World Bank have offered to mediate between the parties.