Ethiopian water minister determined to continue Renaissance Dam construction


Cairo — A month after being appointed Ethiopian’s minister of water, irrigation and energy on Oct. 6, Motuma Mekasa paid a visit to Cairo for talks with his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts. The talks aimed at how to proceed with conducting studies to assess concerns about the repercussions of building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, including the dam’s effect on water flow into the Aswan High Dam and environmental impacts.
“Ethiopia has provided all the political commitments needed to quickly conduct and abide by the results of studies concerning the impact of the dam without any delay,” Mekasa said in an interview with Al-Monitor on Nov. 10 in the Egyptian capital. “We shall not cease or deviate from the dam construction schedule.”

The trilateral technical discussions over the dam’s impact began in August 2014, after the release of the May 2013 report by the International Panel of Experts citing the lack of Ethiopian studies to assess the effect the dam might have on Egypt and Sudan’s water security. During late 2014 and early 2015, Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa agreed to approach French and Dutch consulting firms to undertake two studies, one on the socioeconomic impact of the dam and the other on the hydraulic impacts on the eastern Nile Basin.

The technical committee, however, failed to reach agreement with the firms on a plan for jointly conducting the studies. The mechanism suggested by the technical committee was to give the French consulting firm 70% of the work as the main contractor and the Dutch firm 30%. The Dutch firm withdrew from the process, rejecting the 70-30 arrangement and failing to agree with the French firm on a unified plan for conducting the studies. The recent meetings in Cairo, held Nov. 8 and 9, were called to discuss options for conducting the studies in light of the firms refusing to work together.

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