Renaissance dam study contracts to be signed with 2 French firms in February: Egypt's foreign ministry
Ahram Online, , Monday 4 Jan 2016
Egypt fears that Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam could drastically affect its share of Nile water

Contracts with the two French firms carrying out studies on the impact of Ethiopia's under construction Grand Renaissance Dam on downstream countries' water shares will be signed in early February in Khartoum, a spokesperson for Egypt's foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Ahmed Abo-Zeid's comments to the press came ahead of technical meetings between the tripartite committee – comprised of representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan -- in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and Thursday.

It has yet to be decided whether the February meeting will be attended by the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan only, or if the foreign ministers will also attend, Abo-Zeid added.

A series of technical meetings will be held between the tripartite countries in January, the spokesperson said.

The meetings in Addis Ababa this week will tackle technical suggestions made by Egypt, according to Abo-Zeid.

At the end of January, the tripartite committee will then convene in Cairo to study the offers made by the two French firms.

Dutch firm Deltares, which was assigned 30 percent of the work, withdraw in September saying the circumstances did not guarantee an independent study.

Egypt had been negotiating with Ethiopia over the choice of an independent firm to conduct the studies, before an agreement was reached at end of December on the second French consultancy firm Artelia.

Egypt is also currently in negotiations on the filling of the dam's reservoir. If completed in a short time span, it is feared that it could cause a water shortage in Egypt.

After their last meeting on 11 and 12 December – the 11th round of negotiations – Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan announced that they had reached a consensus on the issue.