Egypt’s irrigation minister Hossam Moghazi said on Sunday Cairo would not leave the future of the country’s water resources in the hands of anyone who would put them at risk, whether inside or outside the region.
Moghazi sounded optimistic on the future of negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach a resolution on the latter country’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, which is being built on a tributary to Egypt’s Nile; the country’s only source of water.
He asserted that the declaration of principles which was signed by the presidents of the three countries is the “umbrella that holds a positive vibe between the three countries to solve the dam’s problem and reach an agreement that would the fulfil welfare of our countries.”
The joint commission was born as part of the 1959 bilateral agreement between Egypt and Sudan on the utilisation of the Nile.
The minister said the agreement between Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum on naming two foreign consultancy firms to conduct impact studies was a positive sign.
The French Artelia and BRL firms are tasked with conducting two studies on the impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.
The risk assessment study – to start in February – is projected to be completed in eight months, while the other study, which addresses environmental concerns, is to take three months to conclude, with both studies scheduled to be finished in 11 months.
Moghazi reiterated Egypt’s appreciation for the role Sudan is playing in bridging differences during negotiations on the dam and ensuring the interests of the three countries.
He added that both Egypt and Sudan are keen on finalising the technical studies professionally and as soon as possible in order to assess the possible impact of the dam and deal with it.
Last week, the Egyptian minister said in a TV interview that although Egypt is “worried” about the dam, it does not view it as a threat.
The interview came one day after Ethiopia rejected an Egyptian proposal to redesign parts of the water outlets of the dam, increasing the number of outlets from two to four to allow increased water flow to the downstream countries.
Last week, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed the importance of reaching a solution regarding Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam at a Cairo meeting with Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour.
El-Sisi told Ghandour that “reaching an understanding is critical given that the River Nile is the only source of water for Egypt.”
Although Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern over the dam’s possible effect on the country, Ethiopia insists it will not negatively affect Egypt’s share of Nile water.
source: Ahram Online