Egypt says its new proposal supports Ethiopian goal in dam talks

After the latest round of talks stalled, Egypt has presented a new proposal to try and work out an agreement in the Renaissance Dam negotiations. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 07 July 2020

Egypt says its new proposal supports Ethiopian goal in dam talks

  • Years-long dispute over $4.8 billion megaproject

CAIRO: Egypt presented a new proposal in the Renaissance Dam negotiations that it said did not oppose development projects in Ethiopia, one of the parties involved in the talks reported.
Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the River Nile for its fresh water, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level.
Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which would generate 6,000 megawatts when completed, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
The latest round of talks over the years-long dispute, which also involves Sudan, stalled after Ethiopia refused to enter into a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
A statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said that a delegation had reviewed the country’s water situation and people’s sensitivity over the Renaissance Dam issue which, the ministry added, was an existential one.
It also referred to Egyptian efforts to reach a fair and balanced agreement, taking into account the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, enhancing regional cooperation by issuing proposals that were consistent with internationally accepted standards.
The ministry said that the Egyptian proposal achieved the Ethiopian goal of generating electricity and avoiding serious harm to Egyptian and Sudanese interests within the framework of implementing the Declaration of Principles, and the method of dealing with any future projects on the Blue Nile in a manner that ensured their consistency with principles of international law in relation to the use of shared rivers.
The statement said that the Egyptian team had tackled the technical and legal aspects of the dam with monitors and clarified the most important Egyptian concerns regarding the various aspects of the agreement to fill and operate the Renaissance Dam in an attempt to bring the three countries’ views closer.
Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Ati said that Ethiopia had several water resources, but suffered when it came to managing and employing them.
He said that Egypt had submitted a technical proposal to generate 85 percent of the electricity that is to be produced by the Renaissance Dam. He added that Egypt was willing to cooperate to support development in Africa and Ethiopia, pointing to the establishment of a fund to support infrastructure linking Egypt with the Nile Basin countries.
Mohamed Nasr Allam, Egypt’s former minister of irrigation and water resources, told Arab News that even with the proposal being presented, reaching an agreement during the current negotiations remained “a weak possibility” and it may be more important to focus on achieving several important goals for the next possible UN Security Council meeting.
He said that these goals included African and international support for Egypt’s attempts to help Ethiopia achieve a fair and equitable use of water that achieved development for its citizens without harming Egyptians, African and international support for the fairness of Egyptian-Sudanese demands, to carry out structural, environmental and social safety studies regarding the implications of the dam and testimony that the Ethiopian demands for a share of the Nile water (not supported by agreements) reduced the historical rights of Egypt and Sudan.
Allam asked whether Egypt’s demands and African attempts to reach a settlement would succeed and “end these urgent issues.”
Some 85 percent of the Nile water that reaches Egypt flows from Ethiopian highlands.
The current talks are being held under the auspices of the African Union.


French president traveling to Lebanon after deadly explosion

Updated 18 min 18 sec ago

French president traveling to Lebanon after deadly explosion

  • France is also sending several tons of aid and emergency workers after Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut
  • The blasts killed more than 100 people and injured 4,000

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron is traveling to Lebanon on Thursday to offer support for the troubled country after a massive, deadly explosion that has drawn global pledges of medical and humanitarian aid.
Macron’s office told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the French leader will meet with Lebanese political leaders. It provided no further details. Lebanon is a former French protectorate and the countries retain close political and economic ties.
France is also sending several tons of aid and emergency workers after Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut, which killed at least 100 people and injured thousands.
It was unclear what caused the blast, which appeared to have been triggered by a fire and struck with the force of an earthquake. It was the most powerful explosion ever seen in the city
Several other countries across the Middle East and Europe are sending aid. The European Union is activating its civil protection system to round up emergency workers and equipment from across the 27-nation bloc.
The EU commission said the plan is to urgently dispatch over 100 firefighters with vehicles, sniffer dogs and equipment designed to find people trapped in urban areas.
The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Poland and the Netherlands are taking part in the effort and other countries are expected to join.
The EU’s satellite mapping system will be used to help Lebanese authorities to establish the extent of the damage.
The French emergency workers traveling to Lebanon include members of a special unit with chemical and other technological expertise trained to intervene in damaged industrial sites. Among their tasks will be to identify specific risks for products stored in the area and other risks resulting from the explosion, said national civil security spokesman Michael Bernier.
Others have experience in dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes, forest fires and other international disasters.