Technical studies on the potential impact of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam on Egypt and Sudan are set to begin soon and will take 11 months to complete, Egypt's irrigation ministry spokesman said one day after a contract was signed with the two firms tasked with conducting the studies.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the contract Tuesday with French engineering firms Artelia and BRL, who will conduct studies on the cross-border environmental, social and economic impact of the mega project on the two downstream countries.
The two firms were chosen by the three countries to conduct the studies late last year.
The French companies will present periodic reports on developments on the filling process of the dam to all the three countries to ensure that it will cause no harm to Egypt and Sudan, Egyptian irrigation ministry spokesman Walid Hakiky told state TV Wednesday.
A panel of international experts concluded in May 2013 that a preliminary assessment on the potential impact of the dam was insufficient, and recommended that further, more in-depth studies be conducted.
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile, the main tributary to the Nile in Egypt, in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam at a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, which will be Africa's largest dam when completed in 2017.
Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming and drinking water, fears that the giant hydroelectric dam project could significantly diminish its share of the river's water.
Ethiopia has maintained that the project – which is 70 percent complete – will have no effect on Sudan and Egypt and should benefit all sides.
Ethiopian water minister Matoma Makisa said Tuesday that the outcome of these studies should strengthen cooperation and ensure that the three countries benefit from the dam.
A cooperation agreement of principles was signed in March 2015 between the three countries on the sharing of the Nile water and the protection of the interests of downstream countries when the dam's reservoir is filled.