Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Reuters Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Reuters

Experts, officials designate Ethiopian Dam as imminent threat

Tue, Nov. 14, 2017
CAIRO – 14 November 2017: Cairo hosted a Tripartite National Committee on Renaissance Dam (TNCRD) meeting on Sunday. They met to discuss the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. However, the meeting ended without reaching consensus. The meeting has become a subject of concern among experts, parliament members, and former officials.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdel-Ati, said that TNCRD did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin States after two days of talks.

Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.

Development of the issue:
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.

Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual shares of more than 56 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt’s average water per-capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in 2014. Addis Ababa, however, claimed that the dam is necessary for its development and will not harm downstream countries.

Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi signed a tripartite joint cooperation agreement in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In December 2015, Sisi addressed the public, saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved. The three countries held 14 rounds of consultation on resolving the disputes over the Renaissance Dam. However, these rounds failed to solve the dispute.

Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hossam el-Moughazi, stated in November 2015 that the dam’s construction is going faster than the tripartite talks. On October 1, The Telegraph reported that Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of the dam and then will start filling its reservoir.

Suggested future measures:
The Chair of the Natural Resources Department at the African Studies Center at Cairo University Abbas Sharaky said in a TV interview on Monday that Egypt should have raised its objection to the United Nations since construction works already started. He said that it would not cripple the negotiations with Ethiopia.

Sharaky stated that although Sudan seems to be a beneficiary of the dam, it would suffer the most of its repercussions. He explained that Sudan wants to import electricity generated by the dam, and benefit from the fact that it would prevent silt from accumulating in its dams.

Sharaky added that Ethiopia did not adopt correct studies when building the dam, and that chances of it collapsing are quite possible which would inundate Sudan.

Former Egyptian Ambassador to Sudan Mohamed El Shazly said in a TV phone call that Sudan is subject to pressure by certain countries to approve of the current construction design of the dam.

The Head of the African Affairs Committee at the Parliament El Sayed Fleifal said in a TV phone call that negotiations on dams’ construction typically take a long time, and that Ethiopia has been gaining time in the past negotiations. He added that the state has been dealing with Ethiopia in a spirit of goodwill and without any pressure.

El Shazly agreed on the MP’s statements asserting that Egypt cannot afford to be more lenient in the negotiations, and that the focus must shift from environmental studies to structural studies.

The MP described the construction of the dam as a breach to the international law as it prohibits another state from getting its water share. He stated that Ethiopia has avoided addressing the dam’s negative impact indicated in the technical committee’s report.

“We will not dispose of one single cubic meter of our water shares,” Fleifel added. He stipulated that the goal of building the dam is political rather than developmental.

El Shazly stressed that Egypt must take a further solid and stronger stance on the matter. He accused Ethiopia of lacking transparency in the negotiations asserting that the state’s soft handling of the matter incurred the construction of over 60 percent of the dam.
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