Water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan discussed in Addis Ababa, ways to address the outstanding issues after a study done by consultancy firms over the Renaissance Dam filling period.
In fact, Egypt still fears that its water shares from the Nile River would be affected by GERD production. Egypt believes that the filling of GERD, which is expected to hold 74 billion cubic meters of water, will reduce the water volume in Lake Nasser and thus, the power production of the High Aswan Dam.
On the other hand, Ethiopia tried to vanish the Egyptian concerns over its share of water by repeating they only want to produce power and they have no intention to use water or to divert to other projects pointing to its location at 17 km from the Sudanese border.
During the meeting, the ministers addressed reservations raised particularly from Cairo after the International Panel of Expert’s (IPoE) submitted its recommended studies to governments of the three countries.
In the same context, the water ministers concluded their discussions by drafting guidelines to be provided to the consultancy firms on ways how to move forward on the pending issues.
Before the meeting, ministers of the three countries paid a visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which Ethiopia is building along the Nile River near the Sudanese border.
The office of Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said, “The visit to the dam project is in a bid to further boost the level of existing transparency and in turn uplift, the confidence among the three countries with regard to the Dam.”
According to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Addis Ababa’s leading role in the establishment of IPoE is stemmed from its desire to strengthen its relationship with the lower riparian countries and build trust among the countries.
However, Mohamed Abdulati, Egyptian minister of water and electricity said,”Egypt is very concerned with the delays in the joint study recommended by the IPoE.”
It is worth to mention that the two studies will be conducted as per the agreements reached by the three countries with the two French firms as well as based on the Declaration of Principles signed by leaders of the three countries.
In 2015, the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed a “Declaration of Principles” regarding the construction of the dam in which they pointed out the dam should not have any significant harm on downstream countries.
Ethiopia launched the construction of grand Renaissance dam in 2011. At that time, Egypt has demanded the halt of the project arguing the hydro-power dam will eventually diminish its historic water shares from the Nile river. Currently, the $ 4.8 billion dam project is 60 % complete.
Since Ethiopia insisted on building the dam, the Egyptian Ethiopian relations have soared .
In many occasions, Ethiopia accused Egypt of destabilizing the country’s national security by saying that Egyptian institutions are harboring, supporting, and funding terrorist groups in Ethiopia.
In October 2016, a video showed members from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopian media described as Egyptians.
On the other hand, many media reports had previously stated that Egypt has been seeking allies in the Nile Valley countries to support its campaign to stop Ethiopia building the dam and that al-Sisi had finally rallied Uganda and South Sudan in an attempt to”isolate Ethiopia”.