Appeal for ‘new dynamic’ as Nile dam talks kick off in DR Congo

Officials said that foreign ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met in Kinshasa on Sunday to discuss Addis Ababa’s contested Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile. 

For more than a decade, a dispute has raged over the construction of a massive dam across this sacred river. 

Félix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the African Union’s (AU) chairman since February, urged foreign ministers “to launch a new dynamic”.

For Tshisekedi, “The human dimension must be at the heart of these tripartite negotiations.”

“I ask you all to make a fresh start, to open one or several windows of hope, to seize every opportunity,” he said.

He praised the participants’ ability “to seek African solutions for African problems together”.

Egypt and Sudan called on Kinshasa earlier this month to lead efforts to resume talks on the disputed dam. 

He emphasized that the citizens of all three countries have a right to water, food, and health. 

Mike Hammer, the US ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was present at the start of the talks, which were scheduled to end on Monday.

The Nile which is the world’s longest river, is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it crosses.

According to Africanews, Upstream Ethiopia says hydroelectric power produced by the GERD will be vital to meet the energy needs of its 110 million people.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97%of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

On the part of Sudan – also downstream, fears its own dams will be compromised if Ethiopia proceeds with filling the GERD before a deal is reached.

However, last Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country’s concerns, warning, “Nobody will be permitted to take a single drop of Egypt’s water, otherwise the region will fall into unimaginable instability.”

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