Agreement on the Filling and Operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Agreement on the Filling and Operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 

The governments of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the Republic of the Sudan, 

Recalling the Agreement on Declaration of Principles between The Arab Republic of Egypt, The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and The Republic of the Sudan On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (GERDP) of 23 March 2015, the object and purpose of which was to provide general principles to guide and facilitate the process of concluding the present agreement, 

Have concluded the present Agreement, which consists of the following articles and annexes which constitute an integral part thereof: 

Article 1 

Scope and Objective 

This Agreement establishes the rules governing the filling and long-term operation of the GERD in light of the prevailing conditions of the system at the time of the conclusion of this agreement, on the bases of adaptive and cooperative principles as established in the present Agreement. 

Article 2 

Coordination Mechanism 

2.1 Committee of Ministers. The Parties shall establish a Committee of Ministers (COM) to provide for and promote cooperation and coordination on matters related to, and the exchange of data necessary for the implementation of, this Agreement. The Committee shall be comprised of the ministers of water of each Party and shall be supported by a Committee Office staffed by representatives of each Party at a level sufficient to provide for the efficient and effective functioning its minister in the Committee. The first meeting of the COM shall take place no later than 90 days following the earlier of entry into force or the provisional application of this Agreement, and it shall meet quarterly thereafter or as otherwise agreed by the Parties, or as necessary to address and emergency notified to it under Article 4. 

2.2 COM Functions. The COM shall, in particular: 

  1. establish, oversee, and ensure the implementation of a robust system for the exchange of data and information necessary for the implementation of this Agreement; 
  2. establish, oversee, and ensure the implementation of a robust system for the monitoring and verification of such data, relying wherever possible and appropriate, on satellite data and passive data collection and monitoring systems agreed and maintained collectively by the Parties; 
  3. establish, oversee, and ensure the implementation of a robust system for the forecasting of hydrological conditions related to implementation of this Agreement; 
  4. address and make every effort to resolve issues that may arise between the Parties related to the implementation of this Agreement; 
  5. adopt, at its first meeting, rules of procedure governing its conduct; and 
  6. undertake such other activities as may agreed by all Parties as appropriate to support implementation of this Agreement. 

2.3 Committee Office. Each Party shall provide support to the activities of its minister in the COM in part through its support of a Committee Office at a level it deems necessary and appropriate. The Committee Office shall provide a platform for the technical staff of each minister to collaborate as necessary in between meetings in advancing the work of their minister and as otherwise directed by the COM. The salary and expenses of such technical staff shall be the responsibility of their respective Parties. Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sudan shall provide the physical and administrative platform for, and expenses of, the Committee Office, and shall accord the technical staff from each other Party the customary legal status normally accorded to staff of equivalent rank in their respective missions. 

Article 3 

Data Exchange 

During the filling and operation of the GERD, the parties shall exchange data on flow, water levels and releases from the GERD and all downstream reservoirs. In particular, the parties shall exchange data on: (i) the water levels and releases from the GERD and from the observation stations downstream from the GERD; (ii) the water levels and releases from all the dams downstream of the GERD up to and including the High Aswan Dam; (iii) system withdrawals downstream of the GERD up to and including the High Aswan Dam. The frequency and means of data exchange will be determined by the COM but in no event shall the exchange of any specific category of data occur less frequently than four weeks. 

Article 4 

Emergency Situations 

Whenever a Party becomes aware of any special water quantity or quality problems constituting an emergency that requires an immediate response, it shall notify and consult directly with the other Parties and the COM without delay in order to take appropriate remedial action. 

Article 5 

Dispute resolution 

5.1 Differences arising under this Agreement may be referred by any Party in writing to the COM for resolution. The COM, under procedures to be agreed, may rely upon the support of technical experts as appropriate to support it in its considerations. 

5.2 If the COM is unable to resolve the difference in 90 calendar days or any shorter timeline agreed by the Parties, it shall be referred to the heads of state, which may resolve the dispute or refer it to conciliation or mediation. 

Article 6 

First Phase Filling 

6.1 The first stage of the filling of the GERD up to 595m.a.s.l. shall be executed according to the following rules: 

  1. The minimum annual release from the GERD throughout the first stage of the filling shall be 31BCM or the flow if it is less than 31BCM. 
  2. The total incremental retention at the end of the first hydrological year after the commencement of the filling shall be 4.9BCM. 
  3. Subject to article 6.1(a), the total incremental retention at the end of the second hydrological year after the commencement of the filling shall be 13.5BCM, whereby the total volume of water retained at the end of the first stage of the filling shall be 18.4BCM, at which point the water level at the GERD shall reach 595m.a.s.l. 



Article 7 


7.1 This Agreement may be amended at any time by mutual written agreement of the Parties. 

7.2 Amendments shall enter into force in accordance with the procedure established under Article 8 of this Agreement. 

Article 8 

Entry into Force 

The Parties shall so notify each other in writing when their necessary internal procedures have been completed to bring this Agreement into force. This Agreement shall enter into force upon the date of the last such notification. 

Article 9 

Provisional Application 

This agreement will be applied provisionally from the date of last signature. 

Done at [xxxxx] on the [xxx] day of [xxxxx] of two thousand and twenty. 

For the Arab Republic of Egypt 

For the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 

For the Republic of the Sudan 

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan meet for final time in Washington over GERD

(egyptindependent)–The foreign and water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will begin the final round of talks on rules for operating and filling the contentious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Tuesday in Washington DC, where they are set to discuss technical and legal draft agreements prepared last week by experts in Khartoum.

US officials and representatives from the World Bank will also be in attendance.   

The ministers of the three countries held earlier meetings in Washington between January 13 and 15  to discuss the results of four rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the World Bank and the United States.

The last round of talks in Addis Ababa in early January failed to reach a final agreement on filling and operating the new dam in Ethiopia, construction of which began along the Blue Nile in 2011, ahead of an earlier January 15 deadline. Egypt’s government blamed Ethiopia’s “intransigence” on the failure of the talks and has denied that Egypt was under pressure to waive some of its demands in the last round of Renaissance Dam negotiations held in Washington, DC.

Despite the failure of earlier talks, Mohamed al-Sebaei, the official spokesperson of Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, said in a statement on January 21 that the three countries had agreed during the Washington meeting earlier this January to reach a comprehensive and sustainable agreement based on cooperation from all parties.

However, legal and technical experts from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan were set to hammer out the details of this final draft agreement during last week’s Khartoum meetings.

Al-Sebaei said Monday that the three countries agreed on six items during the last Washington meeting, which include filling the dam in stages and in an “adaptive and cooperative” manner, taking into account the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact of filling the new dam on downstream countries, and filling rules during the rainy season, which generally falls from July to August and September, depending on conditions.

Sebaei explained the parties also agreed that the first filling phase of the dam aim to reach 595 meters above sea level, which will be used to generate electricity – a key issue for Ethiopia – while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in the event of severe drought during the filling period.

Subsequent stages of filling will be determined according to a mechanism to be agreed on later, he added.

Sources concerned with the GERD said that the last round of negotiations this week is scheduled to settle various disagreements over nine years of negotiations, adding that the US has achieved  “remarkable success” as a mediator.

The last round of negotiations in Washington aims to make sure that the dam’s role is limited to meeting Ethiopia’s electricity needs, the sources said, referencing what same have called Ethiopia’s push toward certain regional political gains “at the expense of Egypt and Sudan.” 

Ethiopia is expected to make concessions in return for Egyptian concessions, which the sources claim would not be related to the so-called water crisis. 

Egypt, which relies considerably on fresh water from the Nile, has voiced concerns that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply in light of the country’s growing population. Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stressed the importance of the project to bolstering the economy in the country, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity, according to a report from AFP.

A look at Ethiopia’s new mega-dam

For Ethiopia, it holds the promise of much-needed electricity; for Egypt, the fear of a devastating water crisis.

 | EnvironmentEthiopiaEgypt