Ethiopia’s Prime Minister asked South Africa’s President to intervene in the Nile dam deadlock between Egypt and his country.
The three countries and neighboring Sudan are being hosted by the US Treasury for negotiations in Washington on Monday.
Last week Ethiopia said broader talks had reached a deadlock following Egypt’s introduction of new proposals to fill the dam in 12 to 21 years.
“We are willing to play a role in whatever agreement that can be crafted, and we will remain supportive to finding peaceful solutions between countries on our continent,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s in line to take over the African Union’s rotating chairmanship, said at a press conference on Sunday.
Tensions have flared over the dam on the Blue Nile that’s set to be Africa’s largest hydropower project when completed. Egypt and Ethiopia, with populations of about 100 million each, are struggling to reach an agreement on how to fill the reservoir.
“We are requesting as a brother and a friendly country to negotiate between Ethiopia and Egypt as well as the Sudan. I am sure you will play a significant role in bringing us a win-win solution,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said during a State visit to South Africa on Sunday.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, is urging parties to respect a 1959 pact on water allowances, which Ethiopia says should be reworked because it dates to the colonial era.
Construction on the dam is five years behind schedule and probably well over its original €3.4-billion budget. When the government ran short on funding, ordinary Ethiopians were tapped for donations, and civil servants donated parts of their salaries.