File Photo: A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in this March 16, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's irrigation and water resources minister announced on Sunday the postponing of contract signing with two foreign consultancy firms – to study the impact of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam on downriver countries – due to "unresolved issues."
In statements to the state-owned MENA news agency, ministry spokesman Waleed Haqiqi said that the delay was due to "outstanding issues between the consultancy firms conducting the technical studies and the legal firm wording the contracts."
Haqiqi added that another reason behind the postponing was that the firms' experts were not granted entry visas to Sudan.
The signing of the contracts between the two French firms – BRL and Artelia – and Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was to take place on 5-6 September in Sudan's Khartoum, according to Egypt's foreign ministry.
The spokesman added that Egypt was currently coordinating with the consultancy firms and the Sudanese and Ethiopian sides to agree on a new date for the meetings.
The announcement by Egypt comes a few days after media reports quoted an unnamed Ethiopian source as saying that no date was set for the signing of the contracts as announced by Egypt's foreign ministry.
However, last week an official Egyptian source told Al-Ahram newspaper said that they were officially invited by Ethiopia to the meeting on 5-6 September and have not received any notice of a postponement, quelling the media reports.
Cairo has repeatedly expressed concerns that Ethiopia’s $4.2 billion dam could affect its historical share of Nile water, or, according to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, that the hydroelectric dam could be used for reasons other than electricity generation.
Addis Ababa insists that the nearly complete dam project will not affect downstream countries negatively.