CAIRO: Egypt has rejected a request by Ethiopia to postpone a settlement on points of disagreement surrounding Ethiopia’s controversial Renaissance Dam.
Ethiopia wanted the issue to be referred to a technical committee, which will be formed to oversee implementation of the terms of the agreement.
Ethiopia’s request was submitted on the eighth day of the Renaissance Dam negotiations.
Egypt rejected the request, saying the points of disagreement are major technical issues.
The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said that two meetings for the technical and legal teams from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held to try to solve the dispute over the dam.
Negotiations are sponsored by the African Union, representatives of the three countries and observers.
Cairo is calling for alternative ideas to deal with droughts and years of low revenue, the Egyptian ministry said.
Egypt also presented its vision regarding the annual operating rules and refilling, as part of an attempt to resolve technical disagreements between the three countries.
Sudan believes a compromise is possible on the project.
“In general, there has been progress on technical issues,” the Sudanese ministry said.
“There was also an extensive discussion on future development projects on the Nile and its relationship to water use between the three countries.”
The dam, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, is upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water to the country.
When fully operational, it will be the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, providing power to 65 million Ethiopians who currently lack a regular electricity supply.
Ethiopia says it will start filling the dam to coincide with the rainy season, a move Egypt rejects.
The water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will meet on Sunday, in accordance to the agreed negotiating schedule, to reach solutions on the issue of the Renaissance Dam.
Experts from the three countries are scheduled to meet in a bid to resolve outstanding technical and legal issues surrounding the project.
Mohamed El-Sebai, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, said that the Egyptian delegation put forward a formula for resolving points of disagreement during the recent discussions, in parallel with technical and legal committee meetings.
Ethiopia sought to postpone any discussion until it started to fill the dam. It also set a condition that a technical committee be formed to discuss points of disagreement.
El-Sebai said that the final meetings will be on Sunday, and a final report will be submitted to the African Union.
Observers will sit with the delegations of each country and the technical committees.
He said that Ethiopia believes it is free to administer the Blue Nile and refuses to recognize any other country’s rights.
“They talk about it directly and indirectly, indicating that there is a great delay in the Ethiopian side in the negotiations.”
Former Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy said that there is a consensus in the Egyptian and Sudanese positions regarding some of the main elements in the Renaissance Dam issue, though there is a difference in the priorities of the two countries.
“The Renaissance Dam negotiations are at a crossroads, and some escalation has occurred. I believe that there are opportunities to reach a solution if there is political will, but there will be inevitable clashes if there is no solution,” Fahmy said.