9 October 2012

East Africa: Tripartite Committee On Blue Nile Dam Meets in Ethiopia Capital

Addis Ababa — The Nile Tripartite Committee held a meeting on Monday in Addis Ababa to continue its study on the possible impacts of Africa's biggest dam which is under construction along the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia.

Blue Nile Map

The Nile Tripartite Committee, now named the 'International Panel of Experts (IPoE), is composed of six experts drawn from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and another four international experts.

The experts committee, so far in its study has hinted that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will have no negative impact to down stream countries; Egypt and Sudan.

However, its final findings and recommendations on the impacts of the controversial project will be submitted to the governments of the three countries in less than nine months.

The committee officially launched its study on 8 May and shortly after paid a visit to the construction site located near Ethiopia's border with Sudan. The group held its first meeting on 6 June 2012 in Cairo.

Following protests from Sudan and Egypt over the construction of the Renaissance Dam the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, proposed the establishment of the Tripartite Committee, as a good will gesture to build trust among riparian countries.

The committee is expected to clear up doubts and come up with a unified stance of the three countries after assessing the positive and negative effects of the dam. Ethiopia intends to use the its dams to become a regional energy exporter.

Egypt whose economy is highly dependent on the Nile and, had repeatedly warned against building any dams along the Nile river, raising fears potential conflict between with Ethiopia.

According to US cable published by whistle-blowing organisation Wikileaks, Cairo had reached an agreement with Khartoum to build air base in Sudan's western Darfur region to strike the Ethiopia Dam facility, a claim Egypt denied.

Egypt and Sudan who under colonial era agreement benefit from the lions share of the Nile's water, argue that construction of the $5 billion Ethiopian dam on the Blue Nile, will reduce the flow of the water and could have an impact on water levels.

Ethiopia which is a source to over 80% of the Nile's waters, however, insists that the construction of the massive dam won't have negative effects and says instead benefits down streamers by preventing flooding and an increase in silt.

Addis Ababa also says that the dam reduces evaporation because it is built in a less humid gorge.

Ethiopia launched the construction of the Renaissance Dam after Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya and later Burundi signed the Entebbe agreement In April 2010, to reverse pre-colonial era treaty seeking equitable water utilization on Nile water.

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