Dam! Why Egypt is halting its Ethiopian dam construction
Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb told Al Ahram daily newspaper that Egypt may in a few days send an official statement demanding that construction of the Ethiopian dam be halted until a mutually agreeable solution is found.
Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Khaled Wassef told Ahram Online that four attempts to negotiate the matter, the last of which proved an utter failure, have already been extended by Egypt.
Abdel-Motteleb also told Al-Ahram daily that should the Ethiopian government offer new solutions, Egypt would nevertheless welcome a new round of negotiations.
"All proposals submitted by Egypt to the Ethiopian government have been obstinately rejected and without explanation," Wassef added.
The planned Grand Renaissance Dam is a $4.2 billion hydro-electric dam on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile.
The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May last year, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about possible effects on Egypt's share of the Nile water, the country's main source of potable water.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam and try to generate consensus. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project.
In recent meetings in Khartoum, the tripartite committee was scheduled to formulate a document that entails "confidence building measures" between the countries, and also to form a special international conflict-resolution committee.
However, the tripartite committee's success was thwarted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Wassef has earlier said that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam faces financial as well as technical problems, and that the Ethiopian government's statements that the project has been 30 percent completed are a "media show" for its own political gains.
Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia submit construction plans for the dam for assessment by international experts.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Alamayo Tegno said his country is committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts.
By Marina Barsoum
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