Egypt's irrigation minister 'totally satisfied' with recent Ethiopia dam talks

Ahram Online, Monday 20 Oct 2014

The Egyptian minister says talks held last week on the controversial Renaissance Dam project proved 'positive and cooperative'

Nile waters flow through the construction site of the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region March 16, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's irrigation minister said he was "totally satisfied" with the outcome of a recent round of talks on Ethiopia's contested Nile dam project which Cairo hosted last week, state news agency MENA reported.

Cairo is concerned that the $4.2 billion dam project, which the Ethiopian government says is now 40 percent complete, could have an adverse effect on its water supply.

Cairo hosted on 16-17 October a second round of talks of a tripartite 'National Committee' made up of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to discuss a plan to complete recommended studies of the impact of the Renaissance Dam project on downstream countries.

Minister Hossam Al-Moghazy said on Monday that the recent negotiations were "positive and cooperative," adding that an agreement satisfactory to the three African states will be hammered out by mid-2015 under a roadmap set out by the trio.

The next series of talks is scheduled to take place on 4 December in Khartoum, Sudan's capital.

An international consultancy firm tasked with undertaking two studies on the dam's hydrological, social and environmental effects is set to be assigned by the committee in mid-December. The study is expected to be concluded in five months, the minister had said earlier.

The move came upon recommendations by a panel of specialists, including several international experts, which concluded last year that studies to assess the dam’s impact on the flow of the Nile were insufficient and that further investigations were needed.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile, a Nile tributary, in May of last year for the construction of the 6,000 megawatt-dam, planned to be Africa's largest when completed in 2017.

Emphasising that any negotiation has its highs and lows, the minister has called on local media to ensure accuracy and objectivity in reports about the project and avert "'provocation," pledging to provide all necessary information on the matter.

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