Egypt Committed To Nile Dam Talks In Washington Despite Ethiopia’s Retreat: Ministry

CAIRO, Feb 27 (NNN-MENA) – Egypt is committed to the course of negotiations, sponsored by the United States and the World Bank, regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), despite Ethiopia’s announced non-participation, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

“Egypt’s two ministers of foreign affairs and water resources and irrigation, will take part in the meeting, invited by the U.S. administration,” said Egypt’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Ahmed Hafez.

Hafez said, his remarks came, in reply to a reporter’s question about the recently announced non-participation of the Ethiopian side.

A ministerial meeting between the water and foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, is scheduled to be held in Washington on Feb 27-28, to crystalise a final agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, built by Ethiopia on their shared Nile River.

The Ethiopian ministry of water, irrigation and energy, said that, Ethiopia will not take part in the dam talks in Washington, “due to unfinished consultation with national stakeholders,” according to state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

“Ethiopia’s negotiation team will not come to the table without coherent consultations, as it has not yet completed discussion with domestic experts and stakeholders,” the Ethiopian ministry said.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said, Egypt will still participate in the ministerial meeting “in appreciation of the constructive role played by the U.S. administration, over the past few months, to help the three countries reach a desired agreement.”

Hailemariam Desalegn, the special envoy of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, recently visited Egypt and Sudan and held talks with their leaders over the dam issue but nothing was announced about Ethiopian non-participation.

Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia, started building its grand hydro-power dam in 2011, on the Blue Nile, while Egypt, a downstream country, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-metre annual share of Nile water.

Egypt’s fellow downstream country Sudan eyes future benefits from the GERD construction despite Egyptian concerns.

Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic metres, may take several years. Egypt seeks to prolong the period to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.

The GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydro-power dam upon completion.– NNN-MENA