Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan agree on French firm to conduct studies on Renaissance dam

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Dec 2015

The French firm Artelia will join BRL in conducting impact studies on the dam after Dutch company Delatres backed out in September

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour (C) speaks during a joint press conference with delegates from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan following another round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project that has strained ties between Cairo and Addis Ababa in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on December 27, 2015. (AFP)

The new international company that will conduct studies on Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam has been agreed upon and was asked, along with the already assigned firm, to wrap up their work as soon as possible, Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said.

Sudan's foreign minister's statements come as his country, along with Egypt and Ethiopia, are still trying to reach a consensus on the construction of what would be Africa's largest dam.

Ghandour said in Khartoum that French firm Artelia will carry out the studies alongside the company BRL.

The Dutch company Deltares backed out of the deal in September citing that there were no guarantees that an independent and high quality study could be carried out.

"It has been agreed upon that the studies would be wrapped up quickly because they are related to the overall work on the dam," Ghandour said, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid wrote on his Twitter account that "Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan reached consensus on the following steps on the GERD project in full commitment with the declaration of principles."

The March declaration, signed by Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Ethiopia's Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn and Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir includes 10 articles.

The declaration has been criticised by some experts who described it as loose and vague.

Ghandour reiterated that the principles were agreed upon to build trust between the three countries.

Cairo has repeatedly expressed concerns that filling and operating the dam, which is being built on the Blue Nile, will reduce the supply of Nile water that reaches downstream Egypt. Ethiopia has rejected these claims.

Ethiopia said several times that the dam solely aims to produce electricity, amid fears that Egypt's share of Nile water -- that stands currently at 55 billion cubic metres -- would be reduced.

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