Ethiopia : Are the Renaissance Dam talks facing uncertainty?

The Cario Post
May 6,2015
By Omar Halawa

Source : The Cairo Post
Source : The Cairo Post

CAIRO: On Saturday, Minster of irrigation Hossam Mogahzy announced the postponement of the meeting of the Renaissance Dam’s technical committee which was scheduled to take place on Monday, May 11.

“As you know we are relying on French and a Dutch consultation agencies which have expertise in building dams, they are still working on preparing a draft paper on the costs, time and facilities which will be used in studying the dam’s impacts,” Mogahzy said in press statements.

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed a document of principles declaration in which they agreed to assigning independent consultation agencies to study the environmental impacts of the dam on both Egypt and Sudan; Cairo has claimed that the proposed dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia would affect Egypt’s 55 billion cubic meter water share from the Nile.

Addis Ababa has claimed that the dam is necessary for the country’s development, and is “a great national project” which will generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

Ethiopia is nearing the completion of the initial construction of the dam.

“The whole scene is unclear, we are now still waiting for the independent agencies to send us their working plan and until the three countries agree upon it could last for a month at least, then if they starting performing their studies it might last for a year. Egypt does not the privilege of wasting time,” former irrigation minster, Mohamed Nasr al-Din Allam told the Cairo Post.

“Now the Egyptian government says that the talks are more stable as there is a document of principles declaration we should all stick too, which is fine. But the whole project is still vague and the document permitted Ethiopia to carry on the building process while the independent agencies are still conducting the studies and is absurd, because if the first stage is ready the water filling process will start simultaneously and we do not have any clear data on how much water will be stored,” he added.

The Renaissance Dam has reportedly been designed 74 million cubic meters, which Egypt rejects; prior studies conducted by Egyptian experts recommended a range of 14 million cubic meters of storage, which was similarly rejected by Ethiopia, which said that the dam would be gradually filled over a period of six years to reach 74 million cubic meters.

“Let me make it clear that our stance nowadays is much better than the previous years, now there is a document that is reliable; for instance, it stipulates that Ethiopia can’t start the water filling process until it informs both Egypt and Sudan with the regulations of filling and operating,” Irrigation Ministry consultant Alaa Yassin told The Cairo Post.

“We are optimistic with the future of the talks as we hope to be a partner for the Ethiopian government in terms of development and as it was clear in the document; we will all stick to the independent agencies’ final word,” he added.

Talks aside, the dam is set be Ethiopia’s main national income pillar within the coming years as it beings operation. When only 40 percent of it had been built, Addis Ababa signed electricity exporting contracts with its neighbors Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan, with a total amount of $100 million dollars over exporting 170 megawatts to each nation.

“Sudan has clear interest in this dam to be fully established, although it is a downstream Nile state as Egypt, but it has other alternatives for water than the Nile,” Ayman Shaban, deputy director of the Sudanese studies center at Cairo University, told the Cairo Post.

“They need the dam for the electricity as it has been built already on their borders with Ethiopia, and Addis Ababa had been hosting the talks of Sudan’s political rivals, it’s a win-win situation for both countries,” he added.

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