Sudan's Foreign Minister hopes that Russia will put pressure on Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam issue

02 July 2021

Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam al-Mahdi in a telephone conversation with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that Russia will put pressure on Ethiopia on the issue of Addis Ababa's construction of the Renaissance hydropower plant. This was stated in a message posted on Thursday on the Sudanese Foreign Ministry's Facebook page.

"Madam Minister clarified Sudan's position on the Renaissance Dam and the reasons for her request to the [UN Security Council] for an emergency meeting on the issue. She expressed her hope that Russia, as a permanent member of the UNSC, would support the Sudanese position and encourage Ethiopia not to carry out the second phase [of filling the water reservoir], which threatens the safety of millions of Sudanese," the statement said.

At the same time, the minister stressed that Khartoum is "committed to a peaceful resolution of the current situation around the dam and to reaching an agreement that will satisfy all parties".

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier reported that during the conversation between Lavrov and al-Mahdi, the need to intensify bilateral contacts in the interests of coordinating steps for the development of Russian-Sudanese relations in various fields was stressed. In addition, the ministers exchanged views on the current regional agenda. While discussing the situation around the construction of the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, the Russian minister stressed the "need to intensify the negotiation process between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in order to resolve the remaining differences as soon as possible, respecting the interests of all the states involved, on the basis of the norms and principles of international law".

The dam of discord

Ethiopia has been implementing Africa's largest dam project since 2011. The hydropower plant, which is a cascade of four dams, will have a capacity of 5,250 MW. The project is 80% complete, Addis Ababa intends to put the dam into operation in 2022-2023. In the summer of 2020, Ethiopia, at the peak of the rainy season, began the first phase of filling the hydropower reservoir, accumulating about 4.9 billion cubic meters of water.

Another 13.4 billion cubic meters of water are expected to fill the reservoir in 2021. Egypt and Sudan fear that the operation of the Ethiopian hydropower plant in the Nile may cause severe water shortages, which will lead to numerous socio-economic and environmental problems, and are trying to fix water standards for themselves and maximize the time of filling the dam.

The three countries have not been able to reach a compromise on the timing of filling and operation of the dam for a year. Egypt is seeking to lengthen the schedule and conclude a legally binding agreement that will clearly regulate the timing and norms of filling the reservoir of the hydroelectric power station. Ethiopia, which is extremely interested in filling and operating the dam as soon as possible, is not ready to sign the documents proposed by Cairo.

In addition, Addis Ababa has refused both compulsory arbitration at the final stage of the project and the involvement of international mediators such as the EU, the UN or the United States.



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry

Based on materials from TASS