Ethiopia says difference with Egypt will not impact ongoing dam construction

As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia expresses firm stand that sovereignty will not be up for negotiation, unconfirmed reports emerge that top Ethiopian government authority has ordered revision of construction plan.

Ethiopia _ Egypt _ Dam
Nebiyat Getachew, MFAE spokesperson briefing reporters. Photo credit : MFAE

September 20, 2019

Days after Ethiopia Egyptian proposal on the Grand Renaissance Dam on grounds that it violates the sovereignty of Ethiopia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  Spokesperson, Nebiyat Getachew, told reporters in the capital Addis Ababa on Friday that the difference with Egypt will not affect the ongoing construction of GERD.

Egypt’s position on the construction of the Dam was found to be a threat to the sovereignty of Ethiopia, Nebiyat is cited by Walta Information as saying.

He was making a reference to Egypt’s position during the latest round of tripartite talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt in Cairo last weekend.

According to Nebiyat, Egyptian position is in a collision course with a recommendation by scientists drawn from the three countries. 

Among other things, Egypt wants to have its own engineers to be part of the GERD construction team, to maintain Aswan Dam at 165 meters high and GERD to release  40 billion cubic meters of water annually.

Ethiopia has rejected it all. Ethiopia’s position is that the maximum amount of water that GERD can release per year is anywhere between 29 billion to 35 billion cubic meters.

Primary interest on the Ethiopian side is to the continuation of a cooperative approach among riparian countries based on the principle of equitable use of the water, and also wants recommendation from the team of experts to be accepted by the parties to the negotiation.

Ethiopia, he added, will in no way accept anything that will compromise its sovereignty.

In a related development, Wazema Radio reported on Friday that a top Ethiopian government authority ordered the revision of construction plan of GERD. Originally, the dam was designed to have about 16 turbines so as to generate well over 6000MW of power. The new direction from a government authority, based on Wazema report, ordered the cancellation of two turbine installation which means that the dam will now have only 14 turbines.  However, no other Ethiopian media outlet reported about it at this writing.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan are due to meet at the end of this month in Khartoum. Ethiopia and Sudan will present their proposal during this meeting which is expected to take place between September 30 and October 2.  Then the ministerial level tripartite meeting between the three countries will continue on October 4 and 5 based on the result of the previous meeting.

What will happen if Egypt continues to demonstrate tendencies to dictate the meeting in a way that violates the sovereignty of parties to the agreement remain unclear. 

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