On Tuesday and Wednesday this week a tripartite meeting of ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, was held here in Addis Ababa. Attended by Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy and the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources of the Republic of Sudan, the aim of the meeting was to discuss and to agree on draft terms of reference for the establishment of the International Panel of Experts being set up to assess the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. After discussions and exchanges of ideas on the draft it was adopted with certain amendments.
In accordance with the TOR the three countries have agreed to form an International Panel of Experts with ten members in all, two experts from each of the three countries and another four international experts. The meeting agreed on a time frame for the nomination of national members, two weeks from the end of the meeting. The names of the independent international experts are to be agreed within four weeks of exchanging of the names of the respective national teams. The work of assessing the impact of the Renaissance Dam on the downstream countries is expected to be finalized within nine months but this can be adjusted according to the request of the panel itself.
Ethiopia’s Minster of Water and Energy, Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, said the meeting had immense significance and opened a new chapter of cooperation by enhancing transparency, the exchange of information, trust and confidence among three sisterly countries. He indicated that several of the studies undertaken on the Nile had clearly shown that there was ample potential and a real window of opportunity for further development and it was these findings that that had lead to the initiation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Minister stressed that Ethiopia was in need of huge energy resources to satisfy an ever growing demand, but the dam would also serve as the initiative to boost regional economic integration. Dr Hesham Kandil, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resource and Irrigation, and Engineer Kamal Ali, Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water, expressed their appreciation for the holding of the Tripartite Ministerial Meeting to establish the International Panel of Experts. They both emphasized that the meeting was a manifestation of cooperation among the three countries and indicated it would form a good foundation for future and lasting cooperation, both for the Renaissance Dam and in other areas.
Before the ministerial meeting opened, experts from Ethiopia and Egypt discussed the decisions passed at the third and fourth meetings of the Ethiopia–Egypt Joint Ministerial Commission to establish the Technical Advisory Committee aimed to provide smooth implementation of cooperation between Ethiopia and Egypt in the areas of water resources and irrigation. During this meeting, the Technical Advisory Committee developed its rules of procedure and agreed an action plan for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two governments on 17th September regarding cooperation on Water Resources and Irrigation. The Arab Republic of Egypt has allocated two million Egyptian pounds for the capacity building and training for this year. According to the action plan Egypt is offering PhD programs to three candidates, MSc programs for seven candidates and other short term annual training over the next years for Ethiopian students. The two countries are also working to strengthen and renew their bilateral relations. During its visit, the Egyptian delegation took the opportunity to visit the Addis Ababa University’s Faculty of Technology. --mfa