Egypt summons Ethiopian ambassador over Blue Nile move

Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 May 2013

Foreign ministry summons Ethiopian ambassador to express Egypt's displeasure with Addis Ababa's recent move to divert course of Blue Nile within context of dam construction project

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Kamel Amr (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Ethiopian Ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia's construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile.

Head of the ministry's African affairs committee, Ambassador Ali Hefny, along with other diplomats, met with Dardir Wednesday to convey Egypt's unhappiness with the move.

Egyptian diplomats further criticised Ethiopia for going ahead with the project without taking into account the recommendations of a technical committee – tasked with studying the issue – consisting of ten specialists, including representatives of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

In a Tuesday interview with Ahram Online, Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris stated that Egypt was pursuing a "win-win scenario in which the interests of both sides can be served and accommodated."

Idris added: "We're expecting Ethiopian officials to make good on their earlier promise to act in a way that would not harm Egyptian interests."

A report on the possible impact of Ethiopia's 'Renaissance Dam' is expected to be issued later this week by the committee of specialists.

Sources close to the committee say the report will include concerns over the potential impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.

It is also expected to refer to worries that cracks could develop in the dam within a few years, eventually leading to serious flooding.

Ethiopia on Tuesday began diverting the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its project to build a series of new dams for electricity production.

The move, called "historic" by Ethiopian government spokesperson Bereket Simon, has prompted criticism from downstream Egypt and Sudan, since the step could negatively affect both countries' water quotas.

The Blue Nile provides Egypt with the lion's share of its annual 55 billion cubic metres of river water.

According to the state-run National Planning Institute, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050 – on top of its current quota of 55 billion metres – to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million.

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