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AU leaders to discuss Nile dam on July 21

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African leaders are expected to hold a summit on July 21 to discuss a controversial mega-dam on the Nile River that has caused tension between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the South African presidency said Monday.

The meeting will be organised under the auspices of the African Union (AU), which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa currently chairs.

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of friction in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011. 

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Sudan and Egypt view the dam as a threat to essential water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it essential for its electrification and development.

Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman said the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government would hold a “virtual meeting” to discuss GERD on Tuesday.

“The meeting is a follow-up on the Bureau meeting on GERD that was held on June 26,” spokeswoman Khusela Diko told AFP.

“During that meeting it was agreed that the Bureau will assess the progress regularly and chart the way forward on the AU-led process of the GERD negotiations accordingly.”

The latest round of tripartite talks on the $4.6-billion project ended in deadlock last month, with Egypt accusing Ethiopia of “intransigence”.

The Arab League has since urged Ethiopia to delay plans to start filling the dam reservoir this month.

The 6,600-kilometre-long (4,100-mile) Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.

Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.

The United Nations has called on the three countries “to work together” to resolve their differences on the project.

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