Nov 6, 2013
A regional meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to discuss the impact of a $4.2bn dam being built on a Nile river tributary in Ethiopia after experts said earlier studies were inconclusive, has reached a deadlock.
Irrigation ministers from the three countries met in Sudan on Tuesday (November 4) to discuss Ethiopia’s planned a 6,000-megawatt hydro-electric Grand Renaissance dam, set to be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017. Its construction has raised concern in Cairo that it will reduce the flow of the Nile, which provides almost all of Egypt’s water.
In a June report, a group of international experts said Ethiopia’s analysis of the dam’s impact was “very basic, and not yet at a level of detail, sophistication and reliability that would befit a development of this magnitude, importance and with such regional impact.”
Mohammed Abdel-Motleb, Egypt’s minister of irrigation and water resources, said Tuesday that the meeting, which took place in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, discussed the recommendations by a committee of experts charged with looking into the effects of the dam on downstream countries.
“The Egyptian delegation presented a clear vision on how to implement the recommendations of the international committee of experts,” Abdel-Motleb told reporters. “We also suggested proposals to ensure the required studies are completed as soon as possible,” he added.
However, Ethiopia’s water minister blamed Egyptian objections for the delay, saying that the Egyptian delegation objected to the formation of a committee to implement expert recommendations on the project.
“We didn’t agree about the composition of this committee,” Alemayehu Tegenu told AFP on Tuesday. “We have differences with Egypt.”
Egypt argues its rights to the Nile water are guaranteed by two colonial-era treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it the lion’s share of the water flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
Other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, have signed a new 2010 agreement which allows them to work on projects without Cairo’s prior agreement. Neither Sudan nor Egypt is a signatory to the new agreement.
Another trilateral meeting is planned for 8 December.