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Egypt says it has new 'vision' for Ethiopia's damNew 'vision' won't affect Egypt's share of Nile water, says country's irrigation minister, as talks are planned to take place in Sudan later this month
Egypt's Irrigation Minister Hossam El-Moghazi told privately owned Mehwar channel that Egypt has a new "vision" regarding Ethiopia's planned Grand Renaissance Dam ahead of another round of talks in the Sudanese capital.
In a phone interview, El-Moghazi said the Egyptian delegation will head to Khartoum on 24 August for two days of discussions.
"Egypt has a new vision, that will not affect Egypt's water share, and we are expecting that the other party responds to it," said El-Moghazi.
Meanwhile, the minister said that Egyptian satellite images have revealed that construction has not yet begun on the part of the dam which will reserve the Nile's water.
The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May 2013, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about the possible effect on Egypt's potable water supply.
Ethiopia wants Sudan to host 3-way dam talks with Egypt
The Ethiopian government said Tuesday that it had proposed the third
week of August for holding tripartite talks with Sudan and Egypt to
discuss Ethiopia's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric Nile dam project,
suggesting that the meeting be held in Sudan.
"Sudan is a suitable venue for the resumption of tripartite talks
because it has hosted previous meetings successfully and has good
experience," Fekahmed Negash, director-general of boundary and
trans-boundary rivers at Ethiopia's Water Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.
Earlier this month, Cairo said it had offered to host tripartite talks in mid-July.
The invitation came after Egypt and Ethiopia agreed – on the
sidelines of last month's African summit in Equatorial Guinea – to
resume talks on the Ethiopian mega-dam, which Cairo fears will reduce
its traditional share of river water.
Ethiopia, however, rebuffed the invitation.
"Ethiopia cannot agree to Cairo's proposal because the issue needs
preparation," Negash said. "We sent our proposal to Egypt and Sudan
yesterday; we expect a positive response from both."
Ethiopia's Nile dam project signals its intention to become an African power
The 4x4 roars off, kicking up a cloud of dust. With one hand on the wheel, the other stifling a yawn, Semegnew Bekele could do this trip with his eyes shut. A construction engineer, he has driven down this track at every hour of the day or night over the past three years. "Ordinary people are building an extraordinary project," he says. He is referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (Gerd), in the north-west corner of the country close to the border with Sudan. Four hours away from the town of Assosa more than 8,500 workers and engineers are labouring on a massive project to harness the waters of the Blue Nile.
The site is closely guarded. Only officially authorised vehicles are allowed through the three checkpoints. As the kilometres flicker by, the din of the diggers becomes more audible. Then the gigantic site itself appears, with thousands of tonnes of aggregate piled up and smooth expanses of concrete lining the bottom of the Guba valley, ringed by arid hills. The hundreds of families belonging to the Gumuz indigenous people, who lived off fishing, have been moved to a location several tens of kilometres away, making room for a hydroelectric power station that will be the largest in Africa when it comes online in 2017. At present only a third of it has been built.
Bekele, who works for the Ethiopian Electric Power corporation, has already worked on two dam construction jobs, both on the river Omo in the south-west. He answers our questions with a flood of figures: the dam will be 1,780 metres long and 145 high, with a reservoir covering 1,874 sq km expected to contain 70bn cubic metres of water. Output from the 16 turbines will total 6,000MW. It will be sufficient to meet growing demand in Ethiopia, now Africa's second most populous country, where gross domestic product is estimated to have grown by 10.5% annually over the past five years.
Egyptian president’s visit to Ethiopia: turning a new page in relations?
Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is due to visit Ethiopia in the next two weeks. Ethiopian Ambassador to Cairo, Mahmoud Dirdir is quoted as saying that the anticipated visit “would open great prospects for cooperation between the two countries.” He went on to describe the visit as positive for both countries.
President al-Sisi’s visit would open the way for further exchanges between the two countries, which have been at daggers drawn in the past. At the heart of the dispute has been the Nile. Egypt depends almost exclusively on the waters of the river for its existence. Any disruption of the flow would be catastrophic, yet this is just what the Grand Renaissance Dam, planned by Ethiopia former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, threatens to do.
In the past Egypt has threatened to go to war if the Nile waters were reduced in any way. President Anwar Sadat, in 1979 said: “The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.” In June 2013 these views were reiterated by a senior Egyptian adviser and echoed by President Morsi, who told a cheering crowd that “all options are open” in dealing with the crisis.
President al-Sisi, having removed President Morsi, won a landslide election and having the Egyptian military behind him, appears to be in a stronger position to deal with the tricky issue of the Nile. Egypt is back in the African Union and now – if ever – is a time to settle the issue. President al-Sisi has said he want to cement his African ties and dealing with the issue of the Ethiopian dam is critical in this regard.
Egypt Urged to Rejoin Nile Body
Sudan Thursday appealed for Egypt to resume full participation in a 10-nation Nile River forum, four years after Cairo withdrew over fears for its access to the crucial water source.
Egypt has limited its participation in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) since 2010 when Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania signed a new treaty on equitable sharing of Nile waters.
Burundi and Kenya later also inked the deal which stripped Egypt of its power to veto upstream irrigation and hydropower projects.
The Cooperative Framework Agreement replaced a decades-old pact that gave Egypt and Sudan rights over more than 90% of the Nile’s waters.
Egypt is almost entirely dependent on water from the Nile.
To protest the 2010 pact, Cairo withdrew from the NBI, a forum for riparian countries to discuss joint management and development of the region’s resources.
“I should like to place an appeal to our sister nation Egypt. Please, your seat is still empty,” Sudan’s water resources and electricity minister, Muattaz Musa Abdallah Salim, said at the annual meeting of Nile Basin water ministers.
“Your resumption of your activities in NBI will further consolidate our gains and integrity in the region,” Salim said.
Egyptian delegation to participate in Nile Basin countries meeting
A delegation headed by Ahmed Bahaa Eddin, left Cairo heading to Khartoum, Wednesday, to participate in the 22nd meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Nile Basin countries, held under the framework of the Basin Countries Initiative.
Egypt has dispatched the delegation despite announcing it has frozen its initiative membership.
A delegation member said before departure that although Egypt has frozen its membership in the Nile Basin Initiative due to differences with Basin countries over Entebbe agreement, Egypt is keen to participate in the meeting. Egypt believes that the Entebbe agreement is incomplete as other Nile headwaters countries have signed the agreement individually, the official added.
Ministers of water resources of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania will take part in the meeting which aims to discuss means of coordination and cooperation between the Nile Basin countries through development projects.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
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