Ethiopian, Sudanese, Egyptian water ministers discuss on Ethiopia’s grand dam
ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — Ministers of Water and Irrigation of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on Wednesday discussed on ways to continue the two commissioned studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which are not progressing at the required level.
Egyptian Irrigation Minister, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Sudanese Minister of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity Affairs, Muataz Musa, and Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Sileshi Bekele, have on Tuesday visited the dam’s construction site in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz regional state on the Blue Nile River, located some 40km east of Ethiopia’s neighboring country Sudan.
Since the commencement of the construction of the dam, the three countries agreed to conduct an assessment by an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) so as to build trust among Ethiopian and the two lower riparian counties.
After the assessment, the Panel of Experts recommended studies to be conducted on filling and operation of the dam’s reservoir, including its impact on the lower riparian countries.
Following the recommendation of the IPoE, the three countries hired two French firms, Artelia and BRLi, to conduct two studies on the dam at a cost of 4.5 million Euros in September 2016. The progress of the two studies, however, has not met expectation.
The three ministers, during their discussion in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday, have discussed on ways to solve differences related to technical studies of the dam, which will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam upon completion with a total volume of 74,000 million cubic meters.
Bekele, who affirmed Tuesday’s visit as an impetus for further discussions, indicated that the difference related to the construction of the dam could be resolved “if it is perceived rightly and regardless of political and other issues.”
Bekele also stressed the need for cooperation in the filling and operation of the dam as one of the 10 principles that the heads of the three countries agreed in March 2015 in Khartoum.
Abdel Aty, who expressed his country’s disappointment at the delay of the work of the joint study scheduled to start last February, indicated that Egypt was “very concerned with the delays in the joint studies recommended by the International Panel of Experts (IPOE).”
Abdel Aty, who recalled the contract that was signed with the consultancy firm back in September 2016 to commence the studies on February 15 this year, stressed that the situation is critical considering the inability to approve the Draft Inception Report so far.
Musa on his part said that the Nile River should be the foundation of cooperation and development between the three countries, adding a consensus needs to be reached regarding the preliminary report.
According to the Ethiopian Water, Irrigation and Electricity ministry, the construction of the dam has presently reached 60 percent completion.