Friday, April 10, 2015

French firm likely to conduct studies of Ethiopia dam: Source - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Ministers of irrigation from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are currently looking at proposals from four consultancy firms to assess the impact of Ethiopia's dam
Ahram Online , Thursday 9 Apr 2015

Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam is constructed in Guba Woreda, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, June 28, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
A French consultancy firm is likely to be selected to carry out new water and environmental studies on Ethiopia's controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, a source from Egypt's water and irrigations ministry has said.

Ministers of irrigation from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are currently meeting in Addis Ababa to look at proposals put forward by four consultancies to assess the impact of the dam being built on the largest tributary of the Nile.
An irrigation ministry source said Thursday that the French Artelia group is close to snatching the deal as officials now weigh up a choice between it and a Dutch company, without ruling out the possibility of signing both firms. The winning firm is expected to be announced on Thursday.
Leaders from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed last month a cooperation pact, or a "declaration of principles," on sharing the water from the Nile which runs through the three countries.
The mega project has been a source of contention for Egypt which fears that filling its 74 billion cubic metre reservoir would drastically diminish its water supply.
But Addis Ababa has repeatedly affirmed the 6,000 MW dam, which will be Africa's biggest hydro station, will not harm downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The tension-ridden hydro-politics of the Nile - Yahoo Maktoob News

The tension-ridden hydro-politics of the Nile

When it comes to the Nile River, Ethiopia and Egypt have invariably been at odds. Disagreement, mistrust, fear and rivalry, what Wondwosen Michago, one of the experts on the Nile, calls hydro-mentality, has been the norm in the relationship of the two countries for hundreds of years. It therefore came as no surprise when Ethiopia and Egypt stood on opposite sides with respect to the 2011 Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement.  
Similarly, the escalation of tension between Egypt and Ethiopia following Ethiopia's launching of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on its share of the Nile River close to the border with Sudan was not only predictable but also certain. This heat over the Nile reached its high point when Egyptian elites in a televised consultative meeting that former President Mohamed Morsi convened in June 2013, discussed masterminding political unrest and even a military offensive against Ethiopia. 
Seen against this background, the signing of the declaration of principles regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan on March 24 cannot be anything but a paradigmatic departure.
Paradigmatic departure
As significant as the content of the declaration of principles is, the fact that Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed on the Nile is in itself historic.
Certainly, this marks a significant step for both overcoming the long-standing tension between the two countries and beginning a more cooperative engagement regarding the development of the Nile waters. For Egypt, it represents a turn away from the threat of war that risked to derail the talks between the countries for addressing concerns over the impact of the GERD.  
For Ethiopia, the signing of the declaration by all three countries vindicates its repeated declarations assuring Egypt and Sudan that it is committed to ensure that GERD will have no adverse effect on the two countries. Significantly, the declaration affirms the trend that emerged in Egypt's policy position since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's rise to power towards recognising Ethiopia's construction of the GERD as legitimate.
Expected to be Africa's largest hydroelectric dam upon completion,
the GERD is envisaged to produce up to 6,000 megawatts of electricity during good rainy seasons.
The origin of the declaration of principles goes back to the joint tripartite technical committee of experts that the three signatories of the declaration established following the commencement of the building of GERD in 2011.
Tasked with the mandate of studying the possible impacts of the GERD on Sudan and Egypt, after a year-long review of the study and design documents, project site visits and consultations with Sudan and Egypt, the tripartite committee undertook and submitted its findings to the three countries in May 2013.
Following up on the report of the committee, the three countries launched tripartite talks in Sudan involving the water ministers. After several rounds of talks, Ethiopia and Egypt failed to overcome differences and the tripartite talks on the Ethiopian dam was suspended indefinitely in January 2014.
Shift in regional power balance
A major turning point was the election of Sisi as president of Egypt in May 2014. In a departure from the threatening rhetoric of Morsi's government and determined to restart the tripartite talks between the three countries, Sisi in his first meeting with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on June 26, reached an agreement to work on their differences regarding GERD and restart the tripartite process.
Following the resumption of the tripartite negotiations in August 2014, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt agreed to commission an international consultancy company to conduct a social, economical and environmental impact assessment of GERD.
Alongside, the technical negotiations, the countries launched political level talks. This led to the March 3 meeting of t
he foreign and water ministers of the Eastern Nile countries of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia at which the ministers hammered out the details of the declaration of principles.
At the end of the three-day meeting, 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."
One of the factors that formed the defining context leading to the signing of the declaration of principles has been the emergence of GERD as a new reality and Ethiopia's insistence to address Egypt's concerns through dialogue.
Ethiopia has been keen for its legitimate right to undertake projects over the Nile for its development endeavours to be recognised. For this, it is backed by the completion of over 40 percent of the contraction of the GERD and 24/7 construction work on the dam. For its part, Egypt, while continuing its engagement over the technical work that needs to be done under the tripartite committee, has sought to secure written political consensus assuring it that no significant harm would result from GERD. 
While the signing of the declaration of principles constitutes an acknowledgement of the shift in the regional balance of power in favour of Ethiopia, it represents a milestone in Egypt's concerted effort at containing the continuing loss of ground over the hydro-politics of the Nile.
Within the Nile Basin Initiative, Egypt's loss of influence came to light when most of the Nile riparian countries signed the 2011 Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement. The move in the diplomatic power balance in favour of Ethiopia was reinforced when Sudan, abandoning its long-standing alliance with Egypt on the Nile, declared in December 2013 its support for GERD.
Declaration of principles
It clearly emerges from the above that the declaration of principles represents a compromise. Accordingly, no country got all that it might have asked for, or conceded an outright loss. The declaration of principles contains elements that cater for and balances the rights and interests of the signatories.
The declaration of principles also seeks to address the suspicion and longstanding animosity that have defined relationships over the Nile for so long. Accordingly, a significant part of the declaration addresses issues relating to cooperation, confidence building, exchange of information and data, as well as peaceful settlement of disputes.
Clearly, the signing of the declaration of principles is a huge positive development that has the potential of transforming the tension riddled regional relations in the northeast and Horn of Africa. This declaration should however be treated for what it is - a declaration manifesting political as opposed to a legal commitment of the signatories.
At the moment there are promising signs that the countries are bent on building on the declaration and opening a new chapter in their relationship. Soon after the signing of the declaration, Sisi flew to Ethiopia for a three-day official visit.
During the visit, the president held meetings with the president of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, and the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Pope Mathias. He also addressed the joint session of the two houses of the Ethiopian parliament in the presence of diplomats in Addis Ababa.
Whether this declaration permanently changes the hydro-politics of the Nile for good will depend on the ability of the countries to walk the talk (in the declaration) through changes in their discourse and practices at all levels, nationally, regionally and globally.
Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso, a legal scholar and analyst of African international affairs who writes on current African issues, is a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, Addis Ababa office.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Al-Sisi vows to 'go after' non-conforming Muslim Brotherhood on his Ethiopian deal - Daily News Egypt

Egyptian president declares Morsi’s reign left big mark on Ethiopians and made them believe Egypt would harm them
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President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi  (AFP File Photo)

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

(AFP File Photo)
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi vowed to “go after” those who do not “conform to the homeland and are afraid for its country,” in an explicit reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.
He made these statements in a speech at an armed forces’ conference on Tuesday.
“The past two years witnessed chaos because of people who did not stand with dignity, honesty, and understanding for their country’s issue, including religious rhetoric, leading to implanting evil people inside and outside the country within the political adaptations framework,” Al-Sisi said.
Abdullah El-Haddad from the Muslim Brotherhood press office in London replied to what Al-Sisi said, saying: “I believe that the one who plants evil is the mass killing murderer who imprisons, tortures and manslaughters every single political dissent in our beloved country.”
Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mohamed Montasser added that there can never be reconciliation between the now dubbed terrorist group and a “butcher and his gang”.
“The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian masses are in a revolt against the criminal military coup which has destroyed the political life of the Egyptian people,” Montasser believes.
Talking about Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, Al-Sisi said that he was surprised that one meeting left a big scar on the Ethiopian people, who would now think Egypt wants to harm them.
A June 2013 meeting on Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) between political figures and ousted president Mohamed Morsi had been aired without notifying those present. During the talks, politician Ayman Nour and Al-Wasat Party Chairman Abu Elela Mady suggested military action against Ethiopia.
Others talked about using actors and sports figures to negotiate, while Al-Azhar representative Sheikh Hassan Al-Shafei suggested embarrassing Ethiopia through international pressure. The statements were widely criticised by Egyptian and Ethiopian social media activists.
Since president Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Addis Ababa in May 2013, conflict had sharpened between Egypt and Ethiopia. This stopped only recently, when the ministers of both countries reached an agreement, later signed by the presidents of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on 23 March.
“You cannot imagine the reactions I got for the conference two years ago. In Egypt it was regarded as a mistake, but no, these are countries that want to live and pay attention to every utterance regarding their bread and calculate matters,” Al-Sisi said.
He also addressed the Yemeni crisis in his speech, calling for all involved parties to maintain their country’s stability. He also sent a message to the Houthis to take the decision and retreat for the sake of bringing Yemen out of its crisis.
Egypt has declared its support of Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen and controlled its flying zone, on Thursday, as Houthi rebel groups called for forming an army to fight the Yemeni president and his government.

Regarding the recent Economic Summit, Al-Sisi pointed out the formation of a committee from the presidency and the cabinet to follow up on all commitments and agreements signed at the summit. The committee would also assess the work throughout a year, with full transparency on the outcomes, whether good or bad.
He called for Egypt’s youth, especially those coming back from Libya and potentially Yemen, to work with the New Capital project, and sacrifice working in positions outside their specialisation fields.
“We need a huge number for this [project] to get it over in the least time. We agreed with [foreigners] coming to work with us to use Egyptian labour, products and raw material,” he said.