Monday, March 09, 2015

Grand Renaissance Dam: Hydro diplomacy on the Nile

A long-simmering water conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt has moved a step closer to resolution, after the countries' foreign ministers announced last week they had reached a preliminary agreement on sharing Nile water.

The deal, which still needs to be approved by the heads of state of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, appears to be an important breakthrough, observers say - although details of the agreement have not yet been made public.

"This is significant in my view," Mwangi Kimenyi, a Brookings Institute fellow who co-authored a book on the need for a new legal regime on sharing Nile water, told Al Jazeera. "Any development in the sharing of Nile water that is based on negotiations between the stakeholders is a positive development."

The deal is important because it appears to mark a move away from Egypt's historical insistence on maintaining colonial-era agreements on water rights.

Last week's meetings were the latest in a series of diplomatic efforts to resolve a conflict that has at times escalated to threats of war between two countries viewed as anchors of stability at either end of the Nile: Egypt thirsty for water, Ethiopia hungry for economic development.

The foreign ministers and water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met in Khartoum last Tuesday for diplomatic and technical discussions over a large dam Ethiopia is constructing over a Nile tributary.

On Friday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti told reporters: "A full agreement has been reached between our three countries on the principles of the use of the eastern Nile Basin and the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.".........................


1 comment:

  1. Selection of firm for Renaissance Dam impact study delayed: Egypt official...

    Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia's tripartite expert committee has delayed choosing a consulting firm to conduct an environmental impact study of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported on Monday.

    Last year, the three countries agreed to choose a consulting firm to assess the environmental impacts of Ethiopia building the controversial dam on the Blue Nile, the Nile’s largest tributary.

    The selection process has been ongoing for months.

    Egypt has repeatedly voiced anxiety that the dam, to include a 74 billion cubic metre reservoir on the Blue Nile when finished, will adversely affect its water supply.

    Addis Ababa has however claimed that the dam will not harm downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, and has continued construction.

    Four consulting companies have been shortlisted and each country has examined their offers separately, Alaa Yassin, spokesperson for the Ethiopian dam issue at Egypt's irrigation ministry, told MENA.

    In a third round of talks in Khartoum that ended on Sunday, the three countries concluded that several enquiries of the four companies should be answered before the final selection.

    Sudan was assigned the task of following up with the companies, Yassin said.

    It is not clear when a consulting firm will finally be selected, but the enquiries should be answered “within days”, he said.


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