The Blue Nile river flows near the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, near Sudan. File picture: AP/Elias Asmare

Johannesburg - Ethiopia has warned of a “last chance” to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the $5 billion (about R71 billion) dam being built by Addis Ababa (the country’s commercial and cultural hub) on the Nile. 

According to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been in talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) since March 2015, when they adopted a Declaration of Principles, including the principle of “no significant harm” on downstream countries. 

Egypt’s Water Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty said the three countries could bridge their differences as they have reached consensus on the “basic ingredients” of agreement including stage filling of the dam, drought mitigation and co-operation rule. 

“We agreed on many basic ingredients but differences remained in the approach such as a definition of drought threshold.” Abdel-Aty said. 

AA also said that the ongoing construction of the dam on the Blue Nile, a Nile River tributary, has been a sticking point between the east African neighbours. 

Last chance to reach agreement on $5bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, warns Ethiopia. Video: Zodidi Dano/ African News Agency.

It said Ethiopia hailed it as a critical step in its economic development, but Egypt fears the dam will reduce its traditional share of Nile waters as defined in the 1959 water-sharing treaty. 

African News Agency