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Differences between Egypt and Ethiopia stall progress at Nile dam meeting

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met to discuss Ethiopia’s planned Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile

Ahram Online, Tuesday 5 Nov 2013
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Photo: Reuters)
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A regional meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resolve issues around the construction of a dam on the Blue Nile has reached a deadlock.

Irrigation ministers from the three countries met to discuss Ethiopia's planned $4.2 billion hydro-electric Grand Renaissance dam, which has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May when images of construction stirred public concern.

The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile, and both Egypt and Sudan are downstream from the planned dam. Egyptian officials have raised concerns that the project could reduce the amount of water reaching Egypt.

Mohammed Abdel-Motleb, Egypt's minister of irrigation and water resources, said Tuesday that the meeting, which took place in Sudan's capital Khartoum, discussed the recommendations by a committee of experts charged with looking into the effects of the dam on downstream countries.

"The Egyptian delegation presented a clear vision on how to implement the recommendations of the international committee of experts," Abdel-Motleb told reporters. "We also suggested proposals to ensure the required studies are completed as soon as possible," he added.

However, Ethiopia's water minister blamed Egyptian objections for the delay, saying that the Egyptian delegation objected to the formation of a committee to implement expert recommendations on the project.

"We didn't agree about the composition of this committee," Alemayehu Tegenu told AFP on Tuesday. "We have differences with Egypt."

Egypt argues its rights to the Nile water are guaranteed by two colonial-era treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it the lion’s share of the water flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.  

Other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, have signed a new 2010 agreement which allows them to work on projects without Cairo’s prior agreement. Neither Sudan nor Egypt is a signatory to the new agreement.

Another trilateral meeting is planned for 8 December.

 

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