Egypt: Negotiations on Ethiopia dam have failed
The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced on Wednesday that the meeting of the tripartite committee on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which was held between ministers of water resources and irrigation in Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt, did not reach an agreement on the difficult points.
The Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aty, said on Wednesday that the visit came within the framework of Egypt’s keenness to complete the technical negotiations, and the meeting was held to discuss the thorny issues to reduce the gap that surfaced during the last period.
Abdel Aty clarified that the ministers of the three countries reiterated their commitment to continuing the talks to shortly reach a satisfactory agreement to all sides on the timing and method of filling the Dam by the Agreement on Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
The negotiations on the technical aspect of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have been resumed on Tuesday in Addis Ababa between the ministers of water resources and irrigation of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to complete the discussions on the thorny issues concerning the completion of the report of the French consultant.
The Egyptian minister’s participation came at the invitation of the Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity as part of the three countries’ attempts to reach an agreement to push forward the course of joint studies under the umbrella of the work of the Tripartite National Committee of Experts.
“We are looking for the best possible scenario to fill the Renaissance Dam that will not highly affect the downstream countries and meet all the requirements,” asserted Abdel Aty on the sidelines of the meetings.
The Minister pointed out that there are differences, saying: “The continuation of the debate is a reflection of the insistence of each side to reach each of the agreements that achieve the aspirations of the three countries.”
In turn, Ethiopian Minister of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, Seleshi Bekele, stressed that this turning point in the negotiations is essential to discuss how to fill the Dam without affecting the downstream countries based on the previously adopted Agreement on Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Khadr Kasam, Al-Sayed said: “We have come with positive hope.” He considered that the construction of the Dam represents a new era of cooperation in the Nile Basin.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has revealed Egypt’s rejection of an Ethiopian proposal on the process of filling the Dam’s reservoir, which stipulates not determining the number of years needed to fill the Dam’s reservoir and leaving the matter for the annual study according to the rates of floods and rainfall in each year. Cairo had formed a technical committee that recommended the rejection of the proposal, as Addis Ababa is not committed to the implementation of previously signed agreements, notably the Agreement on Declaration of Principles signed in Khartoum 2015.
Ethiopia is establishing the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in the state of Benishangul, near the Ethiopian-Sudanese borders, 20 to 40 kilometres away.
When it is completed, expectedly at the end of 2019, it will become the largest hydroelectric dam in the African continent and the world’s tenth largest power generating dam, with an estimated cost of US $ 4.7 billion.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of three dams that have been built for hydropower generation in Ethiopia. Cairo has nevertheless announced its refusal to start the Dam before reaching the final agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam in a way that does not affect its historical share of the Nile water under the agreement signed in 1959, which amounts to 55 billion cubic meters.