Egypt and Sudan used Tuesday’s Nile Day meeting in Dar es Salaam to call for dialogue on the use of Nile waters, making a turn around from their confrontational stance with Ethiopia over its Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (Gerd) project.
On the eve of the meeting, Ethiopia had announced the launch of electricity generation on the dam, a move that was swiftly condemned by both Egypt and Sudan, because the three countries are yet to agree on many points of contention on the effects of the project on downstream countries.
“Egypt affirms that this step is a further move by the Ethiopian side in insisting to violate its obligations under the 2015 Declaration of Principles, signed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister,” said a statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
“Before the move, Ethiopia should have provided the other parties with enough information, such as the volume of water expected to exit from behind the dam, to know if the Sudanese reservoirs would be able to absorb it to adopt the necessary precautions,” said Sudan's acting Irrigation and Water Resources minister Daw Al-Bait Abdul-Rahman.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed labelled the launch “good news for our continent and the downstream countries with who we aspire to work together.”
But in Dar es Salaam, both the Egyptian and Sudanese government representatives struck a reconciliatory tone, with Sudan's Abdul -Rahman saying the Nile Basin countries need to “come up with a roadmap” for proper co-operation going forward, and that “it is fundamental for all of us to value the Nile legacy together."
Egyptian government representative Mabdou Attar said it was "high time" the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) riparian states "put aside all our differences in order to move forward."
"My country has committed itself to adopting the spirit of co-operation and benefit sharing in order to maintain engagement with other NBI countries and overcome all the challenges in the Nile Basin," added Mr Attar.
Taking cue from its adversaries, Ethiopia's Water Minister Hatam Hitef asked NBI member states to view the dam project as "an African investment and success story."
“Now that the dam is already in operation, what is required is a proper sit-down among all the parties involved so we can all move forward and not backwards," NBI Executive Director Sylvester Matemu told The EastAfrican on the sidelines of the event
The DR Congo Deputy Prime Minister Eve Bazaiba added that “the Nile should be a source of peace and not conflict. Any such problems over its waters we have to solve together.”