Joint team to study likely effects of Ethiopian dam on Nile waters

Saturday May 19 2018

Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba in the northwest of Ethiopia has led to tensions, especially with Egypt that worries about its share in Nile water. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FRED OLUOCH
By FRED OLUOCH
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Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to conduct a new study on how the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is likely to affect the flow of the Nile waters.

The decision was made on May 15 in Khartoum where ministers from the three countries agreed to establish a 15-member National Independent Scientific Research Group to discuss the various scenarios of filling up the $4.8 billion GERD.  

The filling up of the dam has been the main sticking point between Ethiopia and Egypt, where the latter was concerned that Addis Ababa had earlier decided to fill up the 74 billion cubic metre dam within three years before the natural flow resumes.

Egypt has been pushing for gradual filling up of the dam over seven to 10 years out of concerns that rapid filling up on the Blue Nile, which accounts for 80 per cent of the Egyptian waters, would be a major threat to the flow of the 50 billion cubic metres of water the country receives annually from the Nile.

The research group is also required to discuss equitable and reasonable utilisation of the shared water resources while taking all appropriate measures to prevent significant harm to any of the three countries.

The group is supposed to submit its report by August for consideration by water ministers.

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Egyptian ambassador to Kenya, Mahmoud Ali Talaat told The EastAfrican that the latest agreement is a major breakthrough and a win-win situation.

Information sharing

“The agreement that the three heads of state meet twice a year is a great move. It will enable them to share information and the positions of their countries will be much closer in terms of resource sharing,” said Mr Talaat.

The latest decision comes after the tripartite talks involving Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia collapsed in April after countries took rigid positions.

Since 2012, Ethiopia launched the GERD in 2012 that is expected to generate electrical power of up to 6,000 megawatts, there has been tension primarily with Egypt as Cairo feared that once commissioned, the dam will reduce water supplies from the Nile to Egypt.

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