CAIRO: The Tripartite National Committee (TآC) has requested applications from seven international consultant offices to conduct a study on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with a deadline in April, Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Hossam Moghazy said at a Saturday press conference.
“The committee discussed over two days all the items on the agreed agenda of the meeting with a spirit of cordiality, mutual understanding, positivity and careful implementation of the roadmap agreed upon,” the TNC statement read, setting a November meeting in Khartoum as a time frame to select the winning consultant office.
The TNC announced in Cairo that one of the consultant offices, based in France, Germany, Holland, Australia and Switzerland, will be contracted by U.K.-based Corbett & Co International Construction Lawyers Ltd. to conduct studies assessing the dam’s social, economic and environmental implications.
The British law firm was assigned to deal with the consultant office to ensure transparency in the sense that none of the three concerned states directly communicates with it, Moghazy told Youm7 Friday.
The study will determine the dam’s height, storage capacity and the number of years needed to fill its reservoir without affecting Egypt’s annual 55.5 billion cubic meter share of Nile water, as well as Sudan’s share, Moghazy added.
The seven offices are reputed to be efficient, impartial and experienced in dam designs; one of them will be selected during the third round of tripartite talks in Khartoum according to financial and technical criteria set by the TNC, Moghazy said at the TNC conference, adding that the selected office will not have any prior dealings with the dam or any Egyptian, Sudanese or Ethiopian employee.
An international expert will also be selected in Khartoum to adjudicate disputes between the three states, if there would be any, Moghazy continued.
“We are witnessing the most flourishing time in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, as shown in the intensive meetings between President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and [Ethiopian]Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn,” Ethiopian Water and Power Minister Alemayehu Tegunu told Youm7 Friday.
Egyptian-Ethiopian relations have moved forward from tension that marred bilateral relations when Ethiopia first began the construction of the dam following the January 25 Revolution in 2011. Ethiopia has emphasized the importance of the dam for its anticipated power generation, which Ethiopia claims will also benefit neighboring countries. Egypt, however, has expressed deep concern over its Nile water share.
“Addis Ababa has the ability to generate power and export it to all countries of the Nile Basin, in addition to its rich livestock that can be exported to Egypt. There are opportunities for economic integration and promising opportunities for investment in Ethiopia,” Tegunu said, adding that Ethiopia offered Sisi its help in “solving Egypt’s power crisis.”
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will meet with Sisi Saturday and their meeting is expected to tackle the dam and a free trade zone at the newly inaugurated Qastal-Ashkit border crossing between the two countries.