Monday, September 22, 2014
Ethiopia hosts meeting on Nile dam amid hope Worldbulletin News
World Bulletin/News Desk
A technical committee on Saturday convened in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss the way ahead for cooperation between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on a multibillion hydroelectric dam now being constructed by Ethiopia on the Nile river.
The committee contains representatives from the three states, being formed by them during a previous meeting in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in August.
Ethiopia's representative in the meeting, Gedion Assefa, said his country firmly believed that the current row with Egypt over the dam could be resolved through dialogue.
"I personally do not think any disagreement would emanate from this meeting," Assefa told Anadolu Agency.
He said the two-day meeting in the Ethiopian capital is the result of a tripartite ministerial meeting that was held in Sudan last month.
Assefa added that over the two days of the meeting, the representatives of the three countries would agree on a number of issues, including the terms of reference and rules of procedures and ways of selecting an international consultancy firm that would conduct two studies in the light of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts.
"We will then submit the document for approval by the ministers of the three countries on Monday," Assefa said.
He added that the meeting was first proposed by Ethiopia, noting that it aimed to prepare for the implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts.
Assefa added that the International Panel of Experts had recommended that studies should be conducted on the trans-boundary economic, social and environmental impacts of the dam. He added that the panel also recommended conducting a hydrological simulation model.
The Ethiopian representative noted that talks during the two-day meeting would not dwell on a dam that would be constructed by Ethiopia across the Geba River.
"We are not willing to raise that issue," Assefa said. "We will not be discussing it; it is not on our agenda," he added.
He said Geba hydropower project is an old one.
"Now that we have got financing for the project, we are taking it off the ground," the Ethiopia official said. "There is no relation whatsoever between the two dams," he added.
Sudan's representative at the meeting, meanwhile, said the event would focus on implementing future works.
"It will be forward looking," Seifedin Hamad Abdalla told AA. "It will be on preliminary activities that would lead to the actual implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts," he added.
He added that meeting representatives would also be discussing how to hire the international consultant firm as agreed during the Khartoum tripartite meeting on August 25 and 26.
"This meeting is very important," Abdalla said. "As I look at things around, the atmosphere is fine," he added.
He said there is good spirit on all sides, expecting the event to end in a "happy" note.
Abdalla said holding the meeting in Addis Ababa, instead of Khartoum, would make matters easier.
He said the location of the meeting would give meeting representatives easy access to those who are on the project and that it would be easy for them to access information if and when they needed it.
"Many of the relevant experts are in Ethiopia," Abdalla said. "But all the issues that fall outside technical matters can be discussed in either Khartoum or Cairo," he added.
"All in all, the recent developments point at more amicable relations and cooperation among the three riparian countries," Abdalla said. "The resource should further catalyze our cooperation," he added.
Ethiopia's plan to build the dam, called the Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia says is necessary for its national development plans, has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopia insists the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.
Last month, a trilateral committee – comprised of the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers – convened in Khartoum where they agreed to form a follow-up committee comprised of water experts from the three countries to discuss the impact of the Ethiopian dam project.
Ties between Ethiopia and Egypt
Ethiopia's ambassador to Egypt, Mohamoud Dirir, who is currently in Addis Ababa to attend the meeting, talked to Anadolu Agency about Ethiopian-Egyptian relations and the dam, which has in recent years caused tension in the relations of the two states.
He said "The relation between Ethiopia and Egypt is improving following the meeting of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi", and "the rejoining of Egypt to the tripartite dialogue of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt resulted from the talks."
He made the following statement:
"At present, Egypt has returned to direct talks and cooperation. The three countries have continued the talks as per their agreement before Egypt walked out of the dialogue.
The previous committee consisted of a total of ten experts, four of them are international experts while the remaining six drawn from the three countries.
The visit of Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hossam al-Moghazi, to Ethiopia and also to the GERD site is considered a positive step forward. The Minister will be able to have firsthand information and be aware of the real situation. On our side, there is nothing hidden. Everything is open.
What I want to reassure is that our policy is not intended to harm Egypt.
Today, Ethiopia is hosting the tripartite technical committee meeting. The 12-member national experts’ committee will put in place working procedures. The members will select international experts who will work with them to conduct two studies on a hydrological simulation model and a trans-boundary economic, social and environmental impact assessment.
Ethiopia welcomes the delegations of Egypt and Sudan.
The Sudanese position with regard to the GERD is clear. They have understood the objective behind the construction of the GERD, which is considered the national project of Ethiopians, and also the position and the interest of the Ethiopian people. They are aware that the Ethiopian people will complete the construction of the dam as they have launched it. We believe that the time will not be far for Egypt to understand this.
There is no one interested in harming Egypt. The three countries: Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, need to undertake many projects in collaboration to benefit the peoples of their respective countries.
The Construction of the Dam is funded by China. It is a small-size dam, with a capacity to generate 371 megawatts of electric power. The Dam has no impact on Egypt at all.
It is useful for Ethiopia's irrigation development along with power generation."
Posted by Guihon at 2:00 AM