File Photo: An Ethiopian national flag is seen at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Guba, Ethiopia. AFP
The statement came in reference to the long-standing dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), stressing that Egypt and Sudan’s water security “is an integral part of Arab national security.”
The council stressed that the GCC countries support the endeavours contributing to resolving the GERD dispute without harming the interests of all parties.
Cairo and Khartoum have been negotiating with Addis Ababa for over a decade now to reach a legally binding deal on the GERD, which Addis Ababa started building on the Blue Nile in 2011.
The latest round of African Union-sponsored GERD negotiations collapsed in April 2021 in Kinshasa; all attempts to revive the talks since then have failed.
Despite the lack of agreement, Ethiopia unilaterally completed three phases of filling the GERD, and announced in February last year that the first turbine of the dam has begun generating power.
Earlier this month, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt will defend its people’s interests if Ethiopia fails to ensure the dam will not seriously harm Egypt and Sudan’s interests.
Egypt, which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs, fears that the unilateral and quick filling and operation of the GERD will have a negative impact on the country’s water supply. Meanwhile, Sudan is concerned about regulating water flows to its own dams.
The GCC council urged reaching an agreement in accordance with the principles of international law and the presidential statement of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued on 15 September 2021.
The UNSC statement encouraged Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to revive African-led GERD negotiations to thrash out a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam within a reasonable timeframe.
The GCC has repeatedly called for a binding solution for the GERD dispute, rejecting any “act or measure that harms the Egyptian and Sudanese rights in the River Nile.”
Egypt, one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, depends on the River Nile for 97 percent of its water needs.
Egypt needs 114 billion cubic metres (bcm) annually, but it only receives an average of 60 bcm mainly from the Nile, according to official figures.
Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hani Sewilam has recently said Egypt’s annual share of water has reached 500 m3 per person at a time when the United Nations has set water scarcity at 1,000 m3 of water per person per year. He added that Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world, relying almost exclusively on Nile water.