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Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba in Ethiopia Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba in Ethiopia  (AFP or licensors)

Pope Francis appeals for dialogue in negotiations regarding the Nile

In remarks made after the recitation of the Angelus on Saturday, Pope Francis appeals for the use of dialogue in negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Nile River.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis said after the recitation of the Angelus on Saturday that he is "following with particular attention the situation of the difficult negotiations regarding the Nile between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan."

He urged all parties to "continue on the path of dialogue so that the Eternal River might continue to be a source of life", uniting, not dividing, nourishing friendship and not hostility or conflict.

"Let dialogue", he ended the appeal "be your only choice, for the good of your dear populations and of the entire world."

Context of dispute

In April 2011, construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) began on the Blue Nile in the Ethiopian Genishangul-Gumuz region near its border with Sudan. 

Once the $4.5 billion project is completed, it will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant.

Concerns over the dam's construction, including the possible decrease of water along the Nile in other countries, has created tensions between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The Blue Nile merges with the White Nile in Khartoum (Sudan) and provides about 85% of the Nile River's volume.

Ethiopia, however, holds that the dam will increase access to electricity at lower costs, thus increasing the Nile's potential to provide irrigation and decrease its flooding potential.

The countries with an interest in the consequences of the dam's construction have met several times since its construction began.

The second round of talks hosted by the African Union began on 27 July. Observers from the United States, the European Union and experts from the African Union Commission were also present. The goal of this set of talks was a binding agreement governing the filling of the dam and its operations.

On 10 August, a one-week suspension of talks was announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources. The suspension was granted pursuant to a request made by Sudan to complete internal consultations.

Meanwhile, all three countries water ministers will be consulting with each other in preparation for the next meeting.

Playback of Angelus, 15 August 2020
15 August 2020, 12:43