Sudan has announced the resumption of talks with Egypt and Ethiopia to resolve the long-running dispute over Addis Ababa’s construction of a mega-dam on the Nile River.
The three countries have been at odds after multiple rounds of talks over the years failed to produce a deal on the operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Ethiopia says the project is essential for its development, while Egypt and Sudan worry about access to vital water supplies from the Nile.
“The negotiations over the renaissance dam between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were resumed this afternoon via video conference,” Sudan’s water ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Last month, talks broke down after the three countries failed to reach any compromise.
The ministry said Friday’s talks were held with the mediation of South Africa, the current chair of the African Union.
Downstream Egypt and Sudan are under pressure to reach a deal before Ethiopia goes ahead with plans to fill the dam.
Last week, Cairo and Khartoum said Addis Ababa will delay filling its dam until a comprehensive deal is reached.
Ethiopia said it was on schedule to begin the filling within weeks but promised to try to resolve its dispute.
Last month, Egypt, which views the barrage as an existential threat, appealed for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene.
Sudan recently said in a letter to the UN that millions of lives will be at “great risk” if Ethiopia fills its mega-dam without a deal.
Ethiopia has hinged its development ambitions on the mega-project, describing the dam as a crucial lifeline to bring millions out of poverty.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supplies and already faces high water stress, fears a devastating effect on its booming population of 100 million.
Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of US-mediated talks in February.
Ethiopia began the construction of its barrage in 2011. Upon completion, the structure will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric facility.
The three countries held talks in Washington, DC, at the end of 2019 and earlier this year but Ethiopia did not attend a final round in February during which a draft agreement was to be discussed in hopes of the three signing it.