CAIRO: Despite the heightened tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam, Egypt announced on Thursday a grant of $57 million to Nile Basin countries.
Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdul Muttalib, after a closing ceremony of the graduation of a group of Ethiopian trainees in Cairo, said the government would provide a grant for bilateral projects between Egypt and Nile Basin countries.
The grant would include for Ethiopia, Uganda, South of Sudan, Tanzania and Democratic republic of Congo, Abdul Muttalib clarified.
Abdul Muttalib added that Egypt seeks cooperation for the stability of the Nile Basin but would confront any attempt to compromise Egyptian water rights.
He added that Egypt is not against the development of the Nile Basin countries but rather seeks to strengthen the relations with them.
Despite the meagerness of the Egyptian grant compared to other foreign grants, the minister said, it reflects Egypt’s interest in supporting the development of Nile Basin countries.
The ceremony was attended by the Ethiopian ambassador to Cairo Mahmoud Dreier Gedi, who said such trainings aim to fight poverty and diseases in Addis Abbaba.
“Some try to reduce the Ethiopian and Egyptian relations in the case of water only,” Dreier Gedi said.
Dreier Gedi said the water crisis was an issue that would remain between Egypt and Ethiopia, refusing any mediation, alluding to the Israeli request to mediate between the two states.
The dam is scheduled to start operation by late 2015, said the deputy chair of the National Council for the dam project on Wednesday. Looming over the project, however, are fears the dam’s construction might reduce Egypt’s annual water share by 12 billion cubic meters, and could destroy 2.5 million acres of green land.
Additional reporting by Asmaa Nassar.