CAIRO: It would be “unfair” to label the six-party meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) recently held in Khartoum a “failure,” Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazy told MENA Sunday, admitting that negotiations have been “arduous.”
After two-day talks Friday and Saturday, the foreign and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, Addis Ababa requested that another six-party meeting be held Dec. 27-8 because the Egyptian questions and demands need “more studying and consultations,” Advisor to Irrigation Minister Alaa Yassin told Youm7.
The Egyptian representatives spoke of the rising concerns among the Egyptian citizens over their share of the Nile water, Moghazy told MENA.
He added that the construction of the GERD is at a pace much faster than negotiations that have been on-and-off since Egypt’s 2011 political turmoil, and intensified after the March Declaration of Principles signed by the three states to document their goodwill towards mutual interests.
Cairo has been tasked with recommending another consultancy firm to undertake technical studies on the impact of the GERD along with French BRLi, while Addis Ababa prefers that BRLi conducts the studies on its own.
In September, Dutch firm Deltares withdrew from the project to carry out the neutral studies citing conditions by BRLi and the Tripartite Committee that do not guarantee “an independent high-quality study.”
Egypt fears that the dam, planned to be Africa’s largest, would affect its main source of fresh water.
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 experts recommended options for Sisi in several scenarios, including international arbitration.