Foreign, irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan discuss GERD
Pesident Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said the signement of Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam - YOUM7/Essam Elshamy

CAIRO: The long-awaited six-party meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) kicked off Friday in Khartoum.

Cairo is pushing for expediting the hydraulic, environment, social and economic studies on the impacts of the GERD and is ready for all scenarios including the withdrawal of both the French and Dutch consultancy firms and hiring a new one, Youm7 quoted Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazy as saying.

The foreign and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are partaking in the two-day talks; the meeting was delayed twice per Ethiopian requests.

Moghazy said that it is “premature to speak of international arbitration on the GERD as long as there are negotiations with Ethiopia.”

However, the Working Group for the Nile Basin submitted a memo in September to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi claiming that technical talks with Addis Ababa will not result in solutions satisfactory to the Egyptian side as GERD’s goal is “political rather than developmental,” especially that there are plans to build more dams on waterways that feed the Nile River; the Blue Nile, Sobat River and Atbarah River.

The size and height of GERD is “exaggerated” and unjustified by its low efficiency in producing power, and its revenue may not cover its expenses, the memo claimed.

The memo recommended that the Tripartite Committee of the three states finish the studies, rather than a consultancy firm, and present them to the foreign and irrigation ministers to agree on a final solution. If Ethiopia agreed on the proposal, Egypt and other Nile Basin countries could launch projects to save the water losses of the river and establish dams in Ethiopia without affecting the downstream states.

If Ethiopia rejected the initiative, Egypt could seek regional and international mediation; otherwise the most populous Arab state may seek international arbitration, the memo said.

The final resolution would be to halt its participation in tripartite talks and launch diplomatic action to explain its viewpoint and also address the Security Council. While that may not convince Ethiopia, it would allow Egypt to take a suitable action in the time it finds appropriate to protect its right to the Nile water.

Additional reporting by Asmaa Nassar

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