GERD tripartite committee to pledge cooperation and resume work
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam - AFP

CAIRO: The tripartite committee of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will resume its activities immediately and will respect the studies to be conducted by international experts on their implications, Ethiopian and Egyptian Prime Ministers said in a Friday statement from  Equatorial Guinea.

The statement represents the outcome of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s closed meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn Thursday on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Malabo.

The activities of the tripartite technical committee were halted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum since Egypt and Ethiopia reached an impasse in January.

Egyptian and Ethiopian presidents will form a committee under their direct supervision to tackle all aspects of bilateral relations, while prioritizing regional projects to develop water resources, according to the statement.

The Ethiopian government is committed to avoid any potential damage inflicted on Egypt as a result of GERD, and its Egyptian counterpart is committed to a constructive dialogue with Ethiopia and to its developmental needs and aspirations, both countries’ foreign ministers said.

Controversy of Renaissance Dam

The worst-case scenario of the implications of the GERD is that a million acres of farmland would go barren and plans to expand cultivated areas would be cancelled, Minister of Agriculture Hossam Moghazy told Sada el-Balad TV Thursday.

“The best-case scenario is for the dam to have no implications on Egypt’s share of the Nile River water by reducing its capacity to 14 billion cubic meters,” Maghazy said.

The reservoir capacity of the dam is planned to be 63 billion cubic meters, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy’s website. The idea of the dam is based on a U.S. Department of Bureau of Reclamation in 1964. The study however proposed a reservoir of about 14 billion cubic meters.

Earlier in June, Sisi told Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom in a meeting at the presidential palace that the political impasse of the Renaissance Dam can be solved through “real political will for cooperation,” presidential spokesperson Ihab Badawy said in a press statement.

Sisi is expected to visit Ethiopia to meet its president, as Ethiopian officials stated in different occasions that the visit will be scheduled soon.

Two months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011, Ethiopia began building the GERD on the Blue Nile, which contributes 86 percent of Egypt’s water share. Its scheduled inauguration is for 2017.

Ethiopia insisted the dam is essential for its development and power generation. But a number of Egyptian politicians said it presents an unacceptable loss of Egypt’s due share of Nile water of 55.5 billion square meters. Ethiopian experts, however, said the dam would not result in a significant drop in water levels in the long-term.

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