Egypt eases demands on Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Egypt is ready to hold talks over the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, said Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Tarek Ghoneim. The possible easing of Egypt’s demands and the lifting of its veto on the project come after a month of heated public debate around the renegotiation of Nile water sharing sanctioned by colonial agreements.

“We shouldn’t look back to the past,” said Ghoneim, adding that renegotiating the allocation of Nile waters and raising transparency in the matter would be “very healthy and good” for Egypt.

“This will lead us to finding this win-win situation,” said Ghoneim, adding that at the moment “everything is on the table.”

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn recently stressed that both Egypt and Sudan could reap consistent interests from the building of the Dam.

As flooding, salination and evaporation are at the roots of 22.5 billion cubic meters of water being lost every year, the regulatory action of the Renaissance Dam could reduce this loss, declared Hailermariam.

Scientific overviews have been conducted by the US Department of Bureau of Reclamation in 1974, and recently by a committee endorsed by Egypt itself, in 2008 and 2010. According to these last surveys, Egypt and Sudan could greatly benefit from the Dam’s energy production.

Ghoneim’s relaxing declarations came after Hailermariam declared that Ethiopia would not allow Egyptian authorities to examine the site of the Dam, were Egypt not to relinquish its veto power over the re-shuffling of water allocation shares between Nile countries.

Tension arose in the last month between Egypt, Sudan and upstream countries.

Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda agreed upon the renegotiation of the 1929 colonial agreement that allocates 55.5 billion cubic meters a year to Egypt, out of a total flow of around 84 billion cubic meters.

Despite this fact, 85 percent of the water originates in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian public opinion considers new and fairer shares of water, as well as the construction of the Renaissance Dam as important steps towards the development of the country, and as a partial liberation from Egyptian encroachment on Internal Affairs.

“People donated their money and bought the bonds that the Ethiopian government made available to them in order to enhance this project,” writes Molla Mitiku of the Walta Information Centre.

Ethiopia says it will be forced to finance the dam this way as Egypt exercised pressure on donor countries and international lenders in order to divert possible funding for the project.

The $4.78 billion dam this month hydroelectric plant would be the biggest investment in the county, capable of generating 6000 MW of electricity.

Davide Morandini, Bikyamasr