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Bitter differences on the #Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, #Egypt will demand to halt the second phase of construction

By Tajuddin
Nov 25th, 2015
Alaa Yassin

Alaa Yassin

Cairo,Egypt ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The Egyptian government has renewed its strong commitment to completing technical studies of the dam in a timely manner ‘before it is too late,’ Egyptian Spokesperson for the Renaissance Dam and advisor to the Minister of Water Resources Alaa Yassin said on Tuesday.

Egypt highlighted the importance of the overdue technical studies and their political significance amid the “alarming” speed of construction.

A source from the Egyptian irrigation ministry expects that Egypt will officially request halting the second phase of construction until further negotiations are held concerning the filling of the dam.

Yassin said in a press statement that consultations between the three countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt) are underway in order to determine the timing of two meetings. The first is the six-party meeting, which includes water ministers from the three countries. The second meeting in Khartoum will be the tenth round of the national tripartite committee.

The spokesperson added that Egypt put forward, during the ninth meeting of the Tripartite National Committee in Cairo on 8 and 9 November, concerns about the Renaissance Dam, including the delay in conducting studies related to the effects of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.

During the last meeting, Egypt expressed its concern that construction of the dam is proceeding without the studies’ findings being implemented.

“We have asked for meetings with foreign irrigation ministers due to the limited functioning of the tripartite committee,” Yassin says.

He then stressed the need to swiftly implement studies conducted by the international advisory body, which takes into account Egypt’s concerns and ensures the implementation of the studies’ recommendations in a timely manner.

Yassin called for abiding by the Declaration of Principles, which was signed by the three presidents in Khartoum in March 2015, and includes the principle of non-harming, cooperation.

The Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Electricity Ambassador Moataz Moussa, announced yesterday Cairo’s keenness to hold a six-party meeting of Foreign and irrigation ministers before the technical meeting of Ministers of Water Resources to discuss the differences between the two offices of international consultants (French and Dutch) assigned to implement the studies.

Ministry of Water of Ethiopia: Disagreement between consulting firms delays study on GERD

The disagreement between the two consulting firms on GERD to work in accordance with the directive of the Tripartite National Technical Committee has delayed the study, according to Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity.

The companies are given the last chance to inform the 10th_Tripartite National Technical Committee whether they are willing to carry out the study in line with the directive and their responsibilities.

The letter written by Ethiopia to Egypt and Sudan about the date of the next meeting of Tripartite National Technical Committee has not, however, received any response.

Border and Cross-Border Rivers Affairs Advisor to the Minister, Tefera Beyene told ENA that the two consulting firms selected to conduct studies on the possible socio-economic impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the lower riparian countries has not yet began.

The consulting firms were selected to conduct study on the possible impacts and associated impacts that may occur due to the change in the course of Nile.

Tefera said the Tripartite National Technical Committee selected the French BRL as the main firm to carry out 70 per cent of the study and hired the Dutch Deltares as a sub-contractor for the rest of the task as per the request of Egypt in order to create mutual trust among the committee member countries.

Though the consulting firms were supposed to submit their findings within 15 months to the committee, they have not yet submitted the study due to disagreements between themselves, the advisor elaborated.

Even if Ethiopia proposed the entire task to be given to a contractor selected by all the three countries so as to quickly complete the study, it was not accepted due to Egypt’s unwillingness to agree on the idea and hence the current delay, Tefera pointed out.

He said GERD, in addition to being designed in a way that ensures the benefits of the lower riparian countries, has opened opportunity for the countries to work closely.

Ethiopia wants the speedy completion of the study that emanates from its stand about the fair utilization of cross-border rivers, the advisor stressed.

Tefera noted that documents reveal that Ethiopia is not a cause of delay of the study, and rejects all allegations that are leveled against it in this respect.

In line with the agreement the three countries have reached earlier to implement the International Panel of Experts’ proposal without interrupting the construction of the dam, according to the advisor.

Hence the dam is under construction as per the schedule and the study of the consulting firms study would not have impact on the construction of the dam.

The advisor said if the consulting firms fail to agree by the time the next meeting is held, the Tripartite Committee may be compelled to recruit another firm or assign the lead firm to conduct the study fully.

The 10th_round of the Tripartite National Technical Committee is expected to be held in Addis Ababa.

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