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.


Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

Updated 20 September 2020

Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

  • President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases

JEDDAH: The official coronavirus death toll in Iran surged past 24,000 on Saturday as health chiefs admitted 90 percent of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in hospital were dying.

Payam Tabarsi, head of infectious diseases at Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran, said the number of emergency room patients had jumped from 68 a day to 200 in the past week. “People are queuing to be admitted,” he said, and if the trend continued, deaths from coronavirus could reach 600 a day within weeks.

Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Iran was slow to react to the first coronavirus cases in February, and is now battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak. Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.

Analysts both inside and outside Iran are skeptical of the official figures and believe the true level of infections and deaths is far higher. President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases.

“Today, the Health Ministry gave a worrying report,” he said on Saturday. “The public’s observance, which was 82 percent in earlier weeks, has fallen to 62 percent.”

FASTFACTS

  • Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118. •Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June. •551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. •Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’
  • Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.
  • 551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271.
  • Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia daily coronavirus case numbers have fallen to a five-month low after 551 new cases were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. The death toll rose by 28 to 4,458. The last time the Kingdom recorded numbers in the 500s was April 15, when 518 cases were reported.

Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a “second wave” of the pandemic after the first outbreaks early in the year.

European countries from Denmark to Greece have announced new restrictions to curb surging infections in some of their largest cities, and Britain is considering new measures to tackle an “inevitable” second wave of COVID-19.

The UK has reported the fifth-largest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico. “We are now seeing a second wave coming in ... it is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

England’s public health chief Yvonne Doyle said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading across all age groups and I am particularly worried by the increase … among older people. This could be a warning of far worse things to come.”