Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Egypt to reveal new "vision" for Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project at tripartite talks on 24 August

Egypt to reveal new "vision" for Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project at tripartite talks on 24 August
Tripartite discussions between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the future of Ethiopia’s planned Grand Renaissance Dam project are due to be held in Khartoum on 24 August.

The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May 2013, when images of the dam’s construction stirred public anxiety about the possible effect on Egypt’s potable water supply.

Ethiopia, however, maintains that Egypt’s water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project, set to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam.

In what has been viewed as a demanding and interfering move within Ethiopia, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister, Hossam El-Moghazi, told Mehwar TV that Egypt has a new “vision” regarding Ethiopia’s planned Grand Renaissance Dam project, which it hopes to reach terms on at the 24 August talks in the Sudanese capital.

In a telephone interview, El-Moghazi said the Egyptian delegation will head to Khartoum for two days of discussions on the Grand Renaissance Dam project, regional water security and defense.

“Egypt has a new vision, that will not affect Egypt’s water share, and we are expecting that the other party responds to it,” said El-Moghazi.

The talks are expected to develop the seven main points that Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, previously discussed during a meeting in late June – among them fostering dialogue and cooperation between the two countries as well as regional projects to meet the growing demand for water. 

Resuming the work of the tripartite technical committee and respecting international legal principles were also among the points on which both sides had reached common ground. The committee's discussions were originally halted last December when Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir, announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

Meanwhile, El-Moghazi said that Egyptian satellite images have revealed that construction has not yet begun on the part of the dam which will reserve the Nile’s water. Regardless, Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia submits the dam’s construction plans for assessment by international experts, prompting anger from within Ethiopia at Egypt’s perceived interference in Ethiopian domestic affairs.

Ethiopian Irrigation Minister, Alamayo Tegno, responded that his country was already committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts and stressed that Egypt’s water share would not be negatively affected by the completion of the Grand Renaissance Dam.

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