25 August 2014

East Africa: Renaissance Dam Talks Kick Off in Khartoum

Photo: http://africanarguments.org
Artist's impression of the Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.

Cairo — The fourth round of tripartite talks over the building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam started in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday.

The talks, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, will involve discussions among Egypt's, Sudan's and Ethiopia's water ministers to reach agreement over criteria and mechanisms for building the dam.

Egypt's Water and Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi stressed during the talks that Egypt was never against development within the Nile Basin countries, reported state-run news agency MENA.

"We [in Egypt] face drought and water scarcity in a manner which differs from the rest of the Nile Basin countries," Moghazi said.

Egypt's relationship with Ethiopia has been tense since the latter announced the start of the dam building process in May, 2013.

Egypt believes the dam would negatively affect its share of the Nile water. The hydroelectric dam is being built on the Blue Nile, which provides Egypt with 85 percent of its Nile water share.

Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu stressed that Ethiopia has "no intention or desire to harm Egypt or Sudan," reported MENA. He stressed Ethiopia's commitment to the success of the tripartite talks.

"The Renaissance Dam project will decrease poverty among the Ethiopian people," Tegenu reportedly said. He added that the project will be useful for the entire region and not solely for Ethiopia.

The three Nile Basin countries had formed an expert committee to provide an advisory opinion over the building process and the harms it might cause. The committee included four international experts in addition to two experts from each of the three countries.

Moghazi said on Monday that there is a need for further studies to ensure the dam project is in line with international standards, citing the expert committee's report.

Tegenu said the current round of discussions should see that the recommendations in the expert committee's report are implemented, reported MENA. He added that the Ethiopian government has accepted the report's findings and recommendations, especially in regards to the reservoir and the dam's safety measures.

Egypt and Ethiopia have held talks regarding the Renaissance Dam previously. Yet, they were not able to resolve certain sticking points.

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