3 January 2014

Ethiopia: Ministry Briefs Parliament On Negotiation With Riparian Countries

The House of People's Representatives (HPR) heard detailed clarification on the progress of negotiation Water, Irrigation and Energy Ministry entered with lower Nile riparian countries on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issues.

Minister Alemayehu Tegenu told the 11th Regular Session of the House on Wednesday that the very reason Ethiopia builds the huge dam on the river course of Abay is solely to meet its hydroelectric need and this could be made feasible with the proven fact that the dam will not cause any damage on the riparian countries.

Accordingly, he said, to deal on the dam issues and to check whether the project is environmentally friendly, the need to have international panel of experts was suggested which is comprising two from each country, i.e., Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

And to help the panelists liberalize in presiding the claim which the three countries have made and still becomes a source of controversy, four high profiled international experts are included from South Africa, Germany, the United Kingdom and France, he said.

The Minister said the government facilitated field visit and conveyed project design for the experts and after a series of study they came across with the fact that the dam would not be a source of threat for any nation.

He said, while the study which the panel of experts uncovered this past May 2013 depicts that there is no harm upon the dam building, the Egyptians still uphold in refuting the dam not to be a real matter in Ethiopia. "We will build the dam to end poverty not to harm Egypt," he added.

The stance of Sudan on the feasibility of the dam and its fertile negotiation on the trans-boundary river is appreciable and for so it will benefit from the dam as it does contemplate benefit from the Tekeze Dam, according to him.

Fekahmed Negash, Boundary and Trans-Boundary River Affairs Director with Ministry, for his part said the panel of experts focused on major topics of study, among others, environmental protection, engineering safety and social impacts of the dam.

As to him, they came up with a 50-page report in May 2013 signed and sealed by the ten experts which meets international standard and proves the dam has flood permeable canal and water leakage system, and increases hydroelectric supply in the riparian countries and helps to develop irrigation system especially in Sudan.

But, the Egyptians are not willing to accept the result, instead trying to win the favor of experts, and issued ill-motivated statements pertaining to the dam. "Ethiopia and Sudan accept the study outcome while the Egyptian stance is unsteady", he said.

The Egyptians are ambitions to lower the height of the dam from 140m to 90m, its power generation capacity from 6,000 MW to 1,400 MW, Fekahmed said. They want their engineers to actively participate in designing and operating the dam and demand Ethiopia to ensure the water security of Egypt.

He said the Egyptians don't want the dam to be built and even so it is with precondition and in consultation with them for any work made and it ought to be small.

The House also same day deliberated on Mineral Works and African Youth Charter bills and passed them with unanimous vote.

Source: Ethiopian Herald

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