Egypt is keen to resume Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia, said Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati on Saturday, stressing Egypt’s rejection of any unilateral actions concerning the dam.
Egypt and Sudan have reiterated their rejection of Ethiopia’s plan to go ahead with the second filling of the GERD reservoir in July before a legally binding instrument is reached on the filling and operation of the dam.
The two downstream countries have expressed concerns about their water rights and people’s lives, especially in the times of drought, in case the dam was filled without a binding deal.
Abdel-Ati's remarks came during a discussion with deputy governors as well as members from the Senate and the parliamentary Coordination Committee of Party Youth Leaders and Politicians.
The irrigation minister affirmed Egypt’s unwavering stance to preserve its water rights and achieve benefits for all parties in the planned binding agreement.
He stressed Egypt’s endeavourto reach a fair legally binding agreement that meets the developmental aspirations of all countries concerned, noting that actions adopted before the deal is reached will be unilateral and opposed.
Egypt supports development in Nile Basin countries and African states, Abdel-Ati said, referencing the water projects Egypt has established in continental states.
He added that the ministry contributed to preparing studies on the establishment of multi-purpose dams to provide electricity and drinking water to African citizens.
Abdel-Ati reviewed the future challenges facing water resources in Egypt by 2050, including overpopulation and climate change.
The minister said he expects the population to increase by 75 million come 2050.
Egypt prepared a strategy for water resources until 2050 at a value of up to EGP 900 billion, Abdel-Ati said.
He added that there is a national plan for water resources until 2037 that focuses on water consumption, improving water quality, securing additional water sources, and adapting the climate for optimal water management.
Over the past five years, Egypt has taken several steps to up its readiness against water challenges and emergencies facing the water system, Abdel-Ati said.
The minister highlighted the need for rationalising water consumption, saying Egypt is one of the most water-scarce countries as water resources are estimated at about 60 billion cubic metres annually, while its water needs amount to around 114 billion cubic metres.
This gap is bridged through the reuse of agricultural wastewater, making use of the surface ground water and importing food products that would have otherwise needed 34 billion cubic metres of water per year.