A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia March 31, 2015. According to a government official, the dam has hit th
CAIRO - 2 December 2019: Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty expressed his hopes to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD by 15 January 2020, ensuring a clear path towards a win-win situation, where all parties' interests are served.
On Monday, a meeting on GERD convened in Cairo, and is attended by his counterparts from Ethiopia, Sudan, as well as representatives from United States and the World Bank.
During his opening speech, Abdel Aty went on explaining that Egypt already has a significant water shortage, adding "it is important to consider the potential impacts of droughts during the filling and operation of the GERD. This is a high priority matter for Egypt. This requires taking effective measures when reservoirs levels reach critical situation."
Below is his full-speech transcript:
H.E. Dr. Mohamed Abdel Aty
Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of the Arab Republic of Egypt
December 2nd, 2019
Your Excellency Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Your Excellency Prof. Yasser Abbas, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources of the Republic of Sudan
Honorable Representatives of the United States of America and Esteemed members of the delegation from the World Bank Group,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome my dear colleagues the ministers of water affairs of Ethiopia and Sudan, and their accompanying delegations, back in Cairo.
I would also like to welcome the representatives of the United States of America and the delegation from the World Bank Group, whose presence and participation in today’s meeting will certainly contribute to our efforts to reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My opening remarks today will be brief, since I think it is necessary for us to delve directly into the technical discussions on the filling and operation of the GERD and to continue the deliberations that began in our previous meeting in Addis Ababa.
Specifically, I would like to make three main points:
First, I would like to reiterate Egypt’s commitment to reach a fair and balanced agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD. This is a commitment that has been affirmed at the highest political level in Egypt, and which is codified in the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles. This reflects our belief that the Nile is an unbreakable and eternal bond of kinship that unites the peoples of our three countries and indeed all the Nile riparian states.
Second, I sincerely believe that there is a clear path towards a win-win solution in these negotiations. Our objective is to reach an agreement that, on one hand, enables Ethiopia to realize its objective by generating hydro-power from the GERD, while on the other hand, prevents the causing of significant harm on the water uses of downstream states.
This reflects the fact that Egypt wholeheartedly supports Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve greater economic growth and prosperity. Indeed, let me be very clear on this point: Egypt wants to reach an agreement on the GERD that includes a filling plan that enables Ethiopia to generate hydropower at the earliest possible opportunity and that also includes operational rules that allow Ethiopia to continue to produce hydropower and realize a return on its investment in the GERD.
However, while enabling Ethiopia to achieve its objectives, such an agreement must protect downstream states from the significant harm that could potentially be caused on their water uses due to the introduction into the Eastern Nile system of a major new installation like the GERD.
Egypt already has a significant water shortage that reaches 21 BCM/year. This deficit is currently being addressed by extensive drainage and waste water reuse (we recycle water with salinity up to 10000 ppm), which means that Nile system in Egypt is being used at an overall efficiency exceeding 85%. Moreover, Egypt imports around 34 BCM of virtual water annually in order to balance the food gap.
Therefore, we need to reach an multi-reservoir operation agreement that enables the new reservoir, namely the GERD, from achieving its objective, while protecting the reliance and functionality of the High Aswan Dam.
In particular, it is important to consider the potential impacts of droughts during the filling and operation of the GERD. This is a high priority matter for Egypt. This requires taking effective measures when reservoirs levels reach critical situation.
Fortunately, we have agreed that the filling and operation of the GERD must be undertaken according to an adaptive and cooperative approach. This means that the filling of the GERD should be accelerated and decelerated, depending on the annual yield of the Blue Nile and in light of water level in the High Aswan Dam. Similarly, the operation of the GERD should be cooperative with the High Aswan Dam and should enable both dams to coordinate in adapting to the changing hydrology of the Blue Nile.
Third, I am hopeful that we can reach a final agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD by 15 January 2020, which is the deadline that our three countries agreed on in the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Washington D.C. on 9 November 2019.
Although the outcome of our latest meeting in Addis Ababa was a matrix that was mostly colored in red, which demonstrates the points of divergence between us, I think there is a real opportunity to achieve progress in our meetings today and tomorrow and to overcome these differences and hopefully to come out with a matrix that includes more green areas.
This requires us to find ways to reach a middle ground that serves our common interests. We can do this by reflecting on and seeking to address the legitimate concerns that our three countries expressed in the latest meeting in Addis Ababa and in previous meetings.
This would reflect the true and genuine partnership between our countries and peoples, which requires that we negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that addresses our concerns and serves our common interests.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In conclusion, I would like to, again, welcome you in Cairo, and to wish us all success in our meetings. We have a real opportunity to achieve tangible progress in our discussions. So let us seize the moment and proceed with our deliberations in the constructive spirit of good faith and partnership that unites our three countries.