CAIRO: Egypt has water reserves sufficient for two years, so citizens should not worry about the effect of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, Youm7 quoted Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdul Muttalib Saturday.
The first priority of the Ministry of Irrigation is maintaining Egyptian farmers’ share of irrigation water, Muttalib said in a visit to the city of Fayoum, south of Cairo.
The dam, which Ethiopia began constructing in 2011, created tense relations between the two nations: Ethiopia claims the dam is necessary for development and Egypt stated the dam represents an unacceptable risk to its share of Nile water.
The Ethiopian government “insists on continuing” talks with Egypt and finding a “win-win” solution to the issue of the Nile water and the Renaissance Dam. The dam is undertaken by Ethiopia to “alleviate poverty,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told an EU parliamentary delegation on March 26, according to a statement by his ministry on March 27.
The issue of the Nile water cannot be solved unilaterally, as any solution without negotiations is “risky,” Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Fahmy said in press statements March 24, reported MENA.
Ethiopia is “maneuvering” and that is why serious negotiations have not started yet, Fahmy said, adding that Egypt is serious in finding cooperative solutions to achieve both Egypt and Ethiopia’s interests.
Two months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011, Ethiopia began building the dam on the Blue Nile. It is scheduled for completion in 2017 with a total reservoir capacity of 63 billion cubic meters, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy’s website.
Costing the Ethiopian government and people $4.8 billion for construction, the dam is expected to provide approximately 6,000 megawatts of electricity, as explained on the ministry’s website.
The dam’s reservoir capacity, however, is almost equal to Egypt and Sudan’s water share coming from the Blue Nile, which is 65.5 billion cubic meters, professor of water resources at Cairo University Nader Nour al-Din told The Cairo Post in February.
Filling the dam, Nour al-Din said, would reduce Egypt’s annual water share by 12 billion cubic meters and destroy 2.5 million acres of green land.
In September 2013, Abdul Muttalib declared that Egypt was on track to have only 460 cubic meters of water per capita per year, placing it well below the United Nations threshold of 1,000 cubic meters annually per capita, further plunging Egypt into water scarcity.