Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati – Press Photo Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati – Press Photo

17th round of GERD tripartite talks hits wall in Cairo

Tue, Nov. 14, 2017
CAIRO – 14 November 2017: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia failed to approve the initial studies' report on the regional impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during a meeting held in Cairo, Egypt's Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati said on Monday.

The 17th round of GERD Tripartite National Technical Committee was attended by the irrigation ministers of the three Nile Basin states. It aimed to reach a consensus over the introductory report prepared by two French firms, BRL and Arterlia, on their technical studies of the dam's potential impact on Egypt and Sudan, according to Minister Abdel-Ati.

The studies were proposed to begin in late 2016, but required an agreement on methods from the three governments before they could begin.The minister revealed that Egypt approved the initial report, though Ethiopia and Sudan demanded major amendments to the proposed studies.

Egypt has previously expressed concern about ongoing delays in the approval of the technical studies, given that Ethiopia is continuing the construction of the dam.The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam, which is slated for completion this year, is situated near Ethiopia's border with Sudan.

In 2011, Ethiopia started the construction of the 6,000-megawatt Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile River, one of the major sources of water that forms the Nile River downstream. Concerns have risen in Cairo and Khartoum over the negative impact the Ethiopian dam will have on their historic Nile water share, amounting to 55.5 billion cubic meters in Egypt only, in accordance with the historic 1959 agreement with Sudan.

However, Ethiopia stressed that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.Egypt and Sudan opposed the dam’s construction from the very beginning; however, Sudan changed its stance towards the dam in 2013, expressing support for its construction, and claiming that it is going to serve the interest of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt.

President Omar al-Bashir claimed that his country’s approval for the construction of the Ethiopian dam was driven by economic not political reasons.

Addis Ababa was pleased by Sudan’s support to the new dam project and welcomed Bashir several times on its territory. The Sudanese president's remarks about the GERD seemed to be a bargaining chip to secure Addis Ababa's support before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

In July 2017, Sudanese Media Minister Ahmed Bilal asserted that Egypt and Sudan share strong links and a long history of unending relationship, adding that Khartoum will not harm Egypt's national security. Bilal pointed out, in a press conference at the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo, that the filling of GERD’s reservoir should be applied in cooperation with downstream countries to minimize potential negative impacts.

The real average consumption of water in Egypt is 105 billion cubic meters, and we get only 55.5 billion cubic meters from the Nile. The remaining 80 billion cubic meters are covered by the reuse of wastewater.
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