Blue Nile dam won't affect Egypt's water supply: Ethiopian minister

Ahram Online , Tuesday 4 Jun 2013

Ethiopian officials attempt to reassure Cairo that Grand Renaissance Dam project won't adversely affect latter's water supply, invite relevant Egyptian authorities to 'discuss' issue

File photo: The sun sets over the river Nile in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Ethiopian Water Resources Minister Alemayehu Tegenu sent a reassuring message to Egypt on Tuesday, asserting that his country's planned Grand Renaissance Dam would not affect Egypt's traditional supply of Nile water.

"We do not have any plan to harm downstream countries Sudan and Egypt," Tegenu was quoted as saying in a statement carried on the Ethiopian foreign ministry's website.

Tegenu went on to invite Egyptian authorities to discuss the issue. "If Egypt has some issues to discuss with Ethiopia, we are very ready to discuss them," he was quoted as saying.

Last week, Ethiopian authorities began diverting a part of the Blue Nile – the primary source of Egypt's Nile water – in preparation for the dam's construction. The move was met with consternation and anger on the part of Egyptian officialdom.

Shortly afterward, however, Egyptian irrigation ministry officials hastened to point out that the move would not impact Egypt's traditional allotment of Nile water.

Tegenu, for his part, reiterated this assertion, saying: "The river diversion means it is the rerouting of the river flow to facilitate the construction in the riverbed – nothing else."

Meanwhile, a trilateral technical committee – consisting of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia – announced this week that its long-awaited report was "inconclusive"as to the planned dam's effects on Egypt and Sudan.

However, the Ethiopian foreign ministry's statement noted that the report, while still confidential, "has concluded that the construction of the dam is meeting international standards and will not significantly affect the lower riparian states" – in a reference to both Egypt and Sudan.

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

On Tuesday, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa El-Din warned that Egypt would "not allow anyone to touch our share of Nile water, which is a matter of life and death for Egypt,"going on to stress the country's lack of alternative water resources.

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