Egypt sticking to its position on filling and operating GERD: Ministry

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 25 Dec 2019

GERD might cause a sharp reduction in Egypt’s historic quota of Nile Water

Egypt is holding to its demands regarding the regulations for filling and operating the giant hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the Egyptian Water and Irrigation Ministry spokesperson told Ahram Online on Wednesday.

"Egypt has been demanding an annual flow of 40 billion cubic metres of water from the Blue Nile during the filling of the dam's reservoir, as well as during drought and prolonged drought," Mohamed El-Sebaei said.

"Egypt's demand for 40 billion cubic metres of waters is based on the drought that happened from 1979 to 1987," El-Sabei said, adding that the Ethiopian side has proposed the release of 35 billion cubic metres of water during the filling process and during draught.

The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, which issued a statement on Wednesday affirming that it is sticking to its demand, said its statement was meant to refute news reports claiming that Egypt had agreed to the release of 35 billion cubic metres of water.

The statement comes a day after Ethiopian Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Sileshi Bekele said that Egypt had dropped "some of the irrelevant issues" regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

According to his statements published by the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) on Tuesday, Egypt allegedly dropped its previous request that Ethiopia release 49 billion cubic meters of water annually.  

He also added that a final agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia would be signed next month.

Earlier this week, officials from the three countries met in Khartoum in a bid to resolve the dispute over the $4 billion project, which Egypt fears will diminish its water supply.

The three sides are set to continue talks in the Ethiopian capital on 9-10 January.

The meetings are part of a roadmap agreed upon during US-mediated talks last month in Washington that set 15 January as the targeted deadline for resolving the dispute.

The foreign ministers of the three countries will reconvene on 13 January in Washington, in the presence officials from the US Treasury and the World Bank, to try to finalise an agreement to resolve the dispute.

Ethiopia hopes that the GERD, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Egypt, however, fears that the Ethiopian dam, which is 70 percent complete and set to be fully operational by 2022, will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for water resources.

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