Sisi to head to Sudan Monday for Nile dam talks

Ahram Online , Friday 20 Mar 2015

Egypt fears Ethiopia's mega-dam project will negatively affect the amount of Nile water it receives

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will head to Sudan on Monday and then to Ethiopia for talks on Ethiopia's under-construction Blue Nile dam, a presidential spokesman said on Thursday.

El-Sisi's visit to Sudan is expected to last two days before he flies to Addis Ababa where Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will choose a consultancy firm to conduct studies on the latter's Grand Renaissance Dam.  

Cairo fears that Ethiopia's $4.2 billion dam project, of which at least 40 percent is already complete, will adversely affect its share of the Nile's water. The Blue Nile, the river's most significant tributary, supplies most of Egypt's water. 

Ethiopian officials have said that the dam will not have negative effects on either Egypt, or Sudan, which is also downstream of the project.

Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazy said on Thursday that a tripartite agreement on sharing the Nile waters and operating Ethiopia's contested dam, to be signed in Khartoum, will be binding on the three signatory states. 

He said the deal will hold Ethiopia to amending the dam's specifications if consultancy studies on the hydroelectric project prove it harmful to downstream countries.

Egypt has raised some technical concerns over the dam, including its storage capacity, currently set at 74 billion cubic metres.

Egypt will likely need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current 55 billion cubic metre quota of Nile water, to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million, according to Egypt's National Planning Institute.

The Ethiopian 6,000 megawatt dam, set to be Africa's largest, is expected to be fully completed by 2017.

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