November 21, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders on Tuesday held talks in Kuwait over Cairo’s concern regarding the construction of what will upon completion be Africa’s biggest hydro power plant.
According to Al Jazeera, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, and Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, discussed the row over the Nile on the sidelines of an Afro-Arab Summit in Kuwait.
However the talks between the two leaders ended with failure to reach an agreement, particularly after the Egyptian president demanded to negotiate over the dam project, a request rejected by the Ethiopian premier.
Egypt has proposed for reduction in the size of Nile dam’s structure and on the water holding capacity of its reservoir which is projected to hold 63 billion cubic meters.
Sudan Tribune’s attempts to contact officials in the prime minister’s office were futile as they were reported to be out of the country.
Egypt says the Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, being built at Nile tributary near the Sudanese border will diminish the water supply to its soil.
Water security is a prime concern to the North African nation as the Blue Nile -which has its soruce in Ethiopia- is the source to 85 % of Egypt’s resource of water.
Egypt argues that it does not have other alternative water sources unlike other Nile Basin Countries and insists the colonial-era agreement which gives Egypt around 70 percent of Nile River water sources shouldn’t be violated.
Addis Ababa however says its controversial dam project will not affect the water interest of the two downstream countries – Egypt and Sudan.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, told Sudan Tribune that his country won’t back off from its plans to build the power plant because of Egypt’s concern.
He said one country’s hegemony over a regional resource that belongs to all Nile Basin Countries is unacceptable.
Tegenu further said the hydropower plant is a regional project that would benefit all Nile Basin Countries and it shouldn’t be a source confrontation but cooperation.
A panel of international experts who were tasked to assess the dam project’s regional impact said in their final findings that the power plant project doesn’t have any adverse impacts on Egypt or Sudan.
The meeting in Kuwait was the first for the two leaders since former Egyptian president; Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July by the military following mass protests.
Egypt has in the past warned against any upstream projects and there has never been such bigger project along the river since Ethiopia launched the mega dam project two years ago.
Tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt escalated after Addis Ababa started diverting the course of the Nile River in May as part of an engineering work.
Following the diversion work Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, warned that all options were being considered to stop the dam.
The $4.2 billion massive Hydro power plant is currently 30 % complete and will produce 6,000 Megawatts of energy upon completion.