Ethiopia's claims about dam construction 'media show': Egypt official

Ahram Online, Wednesday 8 Jan 2014

Egypt and Ethiopia remain deadlocked over construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile

Water gushes out from pipes by the construction of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, June 28, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian government has "alternative routes" in dealing with a major hydroelectric dam being constructed in Ethiopia, a spokesman for the Egyptian irrigation ministry said on Wednesday following a recent meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan that was deemed a deadlock.

Spokesman Khaled Waseef said, in a press statement reported by MENA, that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam faces financial as well as technical problems, and that the Ethiopian government's statements that the project has been 30 percent completed are a "media show" for its own political gains.   

Waseef added that the construction levels of the dam are "extremely low" and that the project's generator has "not even one brick [in place]."

He stated that the negotiations with Ethiopia will not resume until Ethiopia changes its position and "applies international standards" while constructing the dam. He said there are imminent dangers for Egypt if the dam continued to be built as planned, which is something "Egypt would never accept."

The Egyptian National Defence Council, which comprises several ministers including the defence minister, the interior minister, the foreign affairs minister, the minister of militiary production, the finance minister and senior army commanders, met on Wednesday to discuss the potential impacts of the dam. President Adly Mansour and Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Moteleb attended the meeting. 

The planned Grand Renaissance Dam is a $4.2 billion hydro-electric dam on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile. The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May last year, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about possible effects on Egypt's share of the Nile water, the country's  main source of potable water.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam and try to generate consensus. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project.

In recent meetings in Khartoum, the tripartite committee was scheduled to formulate a document that entails "confidence building measures" between the countries, and also to form a special international conflict-resolution committee. Both plans failed as Egypt and Ethiopia refused to see eye-to-eye.

According to a statement released by Egyptian authorities on Sunday, Ethiopia insisted on special conditions to an international conflict resolution committee that Egypt believes "would deplete it from its original purpose of being an impartial moderator between the three countries."

In June, Ethiopia's parliament ratified an international treaty, which Egypt opposes, allowing upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt's approval.

The deal replaces colonial-era agreements that grant Egypt and Sudan the majority of Nile river water rights.


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