JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister says his country, Egypt and Sudan have reached a “major common understanding which paves the way for a breakthrough agreement” on a massive dam project that has led to sharp regional tensions.
The statement by Abiy Ahmed’s office Tuesday night came as new satellite images show the water level in the reservoir behind the nearly completed dam is at its highest in at least four years.
Ethiopia has said the rising water is from heavy rains, and the new statement says that “it has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that the (dam’s) first-year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping.”
Ethiopia has said it would begin filling the dam’s reservoir this month even without a deal as the rainy season floods the Blue Nile. But the new statement says the three countries’ leaders have agreed to pursue “further technical discussions on the filling ... and proceed to a comprehensive agreement.”
Ethiopia says the colossal dam offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty and become a major power exporter. Downstream Egypt, which depends on the Nile to supply its farmers and booming population of 100 million with fresh water, asserts that the dam poses an existential threat.
Years of talks with a variety of mediators, including the Trump administration, have failed to produce a solution. These new talks were mediated by the African Union.