July 30, 2017 – Egypt’s irrigation minister, Abdel-Ati , dismissed rumors that Ethiopia has started filling the Great Ethiopian Renaissance dam. However, the minster admitted that 60 percent of Ethiopia’s dam construction has been completed, and that the filling process is expected to start in October.
“Currently, negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over technical concerns on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam are still ongoing,” the minister added.
The statements by the minister come as the three countries try to agree on a fixed date to hold a postponed trilateral committee meeting in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
Abdel-Ati said that the three countries have reached consensus over a partial report presented by the two consultancy firms conducting impact studies on the dam. However, another part of the report has provoked disagreement between the three countries over its methodology.
“We’re working on reaching a consensus. As negotiators, we do not surrender,” Abdel-Ati said.
The studies by the French firms Artelia and BRL, expected to take 11 months from their start date in late 2016, include the managing of water and hydroelectric resources as well as an assessment of the cross-border environmental, social and economic impact of the mega project.
“It is not in any party’s interest to have disharmony in the region. Only through dialogue can obstacles be overcome,” Abdel-Al said.
The minister stressed that Egypt does not object to the dam construction as a development strategy, but that the countries affected should reach an agreement in order to avoid crisis.
“Egypt will be the most affected [by the dam], and that is why we are seeking trilateral cooperation to reduce any [negative] effect,” he elaborated.
Cairo has expressed concerns that the construction of the dam, which is more than half-way complete, could negatively impact Egypt’s share of Nile water.
Addis Ababa, however, has maintained that the dam project, which Ethiopia says is vital for generating electricity, will not harm downstream countries, with Ethiopian FM Workneh Gebeyehu assuring Egyptians in April during a first-time Cairo visit that Ethiopia would never harm the Egyptian people and their interests.