Egypt supports development and not against construction of dams in Africa: Irrigation minister

MENA , Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Feb 2022

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Ati reiterated on Tuesday that Egypt supports development in Africa and is not against the construction of dams, including Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Mohamed Abdel-Ati
Caption : Egypt s Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Ati in his meeting at the Parliament with Local Administration committee in Cairo on Tuesday (Photo : Egyptian Cabinet)

Egypt contributes to multiple development projects in Africa to help the continent achieve sustainable development and make the best use of their resources, the minister said during a meeting of the House’s Local Administration Committee.

For example, an Egyptian consortium of two Egyptian companies — the Arab Contractors Company and El Sewedy Electric — is taking part in the construction of a $2.9 billion Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power Project (JNHPP)  in Tanzania.

The JNHPP, which is located in the Morogoro area on the Rufiji River in Tanzania is planned to secure a clean power supply for more than 60 million Tanzanians as well as control water flow during flooding.

On the disputed GERD, the Egyptian minister said Egypt only seeks to reach a legally binding agreement on the Ethiopian dam.

“Egypt is keen that the operation of the GERD is in accordance with international agreements,” he stressed.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for 10 years now to reach the binding agreement that regulates the rules of filling and operating the dam; a proposal that has been repeatedly turned down by Ethiopia.

Both downstream countries have always blamed the failure of the talks on Ethiopia’s “intransigence”, which led to a deadlock in the last round of AU-sponsored talks that were held in April 2021 in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kinshasa.

Abdel-Ati’s remarks came only three days after Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Redwan Hussein called on Egypt and Sudan not to stick to their stance on the GERD file, saying Ethiopians will not wait “indefinitely” to put their resources into use.

Earlier this month, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s political will to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the multi-million-dollar dam.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile River for 97 percent of its water needs, is concerned that the GERD may reduce the country’s share of the Nile’s water in the absence of a legally binding agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam.

The country, whose 102 million-plus population is expected to increase by 75 million by 2050, is considered one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, as it receives around 60 billion cubic metres (bcm) annually — mainly from the River Nile — though its needs are estimated at 114 bcm.

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