Egypt set to submit final Renaissance Dam report

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Egypt set to submit final Renaissance Dam report

  • Intense talks about Nile-based project

CAIRO: Egypt is expected to submit its final report on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations on Monday.

The report comes after 10 days of intense negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and will be submitted to South Africa as the current head of the African Union, which is mediating the talks.

All three countries are set to issue their final reports on the negotiation’s outcomes.

On Friday, Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s suggestion on postponing reaching a settlement on the points of contention in the GERD negotiations, according to a spokesman from Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed El-Sebaei. He said that the report would be handed to South Africa even though Egypt and Sudan had yet to review any of the dam’s safety studies.

The deadline to reach a deal in the current round of negotiations was scheduled for Sunday. The talks were resuming Monday with the three countries’ irrigation ministers.

Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said that the ministers of the three countries started the Sunday meeting by reviewing the discussions of the technical and legal committees. Egypt put forward some alternative formulas to try to bring the opposing views closer.

The Sudanese and Ethiopian sides presented a few alternatives to the points of disagreement on technical and legal aspects, but the discussions reflected the ongoing disagreements on the main issues.

The Sudanese News Agency quoted the executive director of the African Union’s Energy Commission, Rashid Abdullah Ali, as saying that an agreement on the points of dispute between the three countries was close to being realized.

Some 85 percent of the Nile waters that reach Egypt flow from Ethiopian highlands, mainly from the Blue Nile.

Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the River Nile for its freshwater, fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level.

Ethiopia hopes 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 the years-long talks stalled after Ethiopia rejected to enter into a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

Ali called on the three countries to prepare for the changes that the dam would lead to.

“We must manage a scientific-social dialogue to prepare ourselves to operate the Renaissance Dam and know how to plan for the future. There are huge projects that need government leadership,” he said.

Benefits for Sudan included the possibility of regulating the flow of the Nile and adding two million acres to irrigated agricultural lands, he said, and studies should be conducted for new projects to take advantage of this amount. He was expecting a decrease in the cost of pumping water with pumps over the entire course of the Blue Nile, and Nile and farmers benefiting from it.

He said the negative aspects for Sudan were that it would lose 50 percent of its cliffs, which are estimated at 50,000 acres out of a total of 100,000 acres, which are lands that were flooded with Nile water and planted with vegetables in the summer.

Mohammed Nasr Allam, Egypt’s former minister of water resources and irrigation, told Arab News that the framework followed by Ethiopia on the Renaissance Dam had been “stubborn” and had stalled all steps for a solution.

The US and the World Bank became involved in the dispute late last year but failed to get Ethiopia to sign up to a document agreed with Egypt in February.

“Ethiopia does not want to accept any agreements nor does it want any legal authority to monitor the implementation of the agreement if it ends up happening, and to hold those who violate it accountable,” Nader Noureldin, professor of water resources at Cairo University, said.

Noureldin predicted that, if the current negotiations failed, Egypt would turn to international courts “which the Ethiopian negotiator refuses to resort to if any party violates its promises in the treaties.”

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rises above 25,000

Updated 37 min 1 sec ago

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rises above 25,000

  • 3,521 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran

DUBAI: Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 175 to 25,015 on Thursday, the highest in the Middle East, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 436,319 in the country, according to health ministry. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 3,521 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran.