Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Tuesday began a visit to Sudan for a new mediation effort regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
According to a statement by Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, Afwerki arrived in Khartoum on a two-day official visit, during which he will discuss with the head of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, ways to support and enhance bilateral cooperation and develop relations between the two countries, in addition to issues of common interest.
The delegation accompanying the Eritrean president, according to the statement, includes Minister of Foreign Affairs, Othman Saleh, and Presidential Adviser Yamani Qubrab.
The statement did not disclose further details regarding the visit, but the Sudanese newspaper Alrakoba said Afwerki would discuss with senior Sudanese officials a new "mediation" on the GERD.
Also, Sudanese daily Al-Sayha said the purpose of the visit was “to conduct moves to mediate between Sudan and Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam”.
Ethiopia began the construction of its $5-billion hydro dam on the Nile River in 2011 to boost the nation’s electricity generation and alleviate poverty. More than 60% of Ethiopia’s 110 million population live in the dark without electricity.
Egypt and Sudan say they fear the dam would reduce the flow of water downstream and affect their “historical water rights” under a water-sharing treaty the two countries signed in 1959 that gave Egypt 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) water and Sudan 18.5 bcm.
Ethiopia maintains that it direly needs electricity for its national development to provide much-needed energy to homes and local industries as well as for exports to neighboring countries.