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Egypt has continued with its unacceptable stance against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project in various ways.
Even though the International Panel of Experts’ (IPoE) recommended that the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will not have significant effect on downstream countries, Egypt is still continuing its campaign to tilt the project against the IPoE’s recommendations.
The dam that is being fully financed by the Ethiopian government and that does have an installed generation capacity of 6,000 MW on the river Abay/Blue Nile officially commenced construction on April 2, 2011, in the presence of high government officials.
The project is being constructed on the lower basin of Abay River in the Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State and is planned to be completed by 2017.
Since the project was officially launched, Egypt has been opposing the project saying that it may affect the North African country’s water share from the river.
Based on the dialogues held between Ethiopia and the two downstream African countries Egypt, and Sudan, IPoE undertook a study about the effect of the project on the two downstream countries, and gave a recommendation that would be carried out by experts of the three African countries.
But after the accomplishment of the IPoE’s recommendations, Egypt has come up with a new arrangement saying they want to undertake another study instead of the one that the three countries agreed to implement before the panel of experts commenced the study.
However the idea is not acceptable to the other two countries (Ethiopia and Sudan) because of the original deal, while the two other countries stressed that experts of the three countries have to begin the work based on the deal.
Since then Egyptian officials have been busy lobbying the international community and other upstream Abay/ Nile basin countries to no avail. Even though the officials and Egypt’s media stated that most of the visit is positive and favoring Egypt’s interest, experts said that the campaign has not been as fruitful as Egypt has said. “Because the facts of the project are not like what Egypt is saying,” experts said.
Recently an Egyptian scholar stated that the GERD project will not affect Egypt. In an interview with Egypt’s Nile TV he said that the issue is politically motivated rather than based on reality. “The project has a positive effect on Egypt and Sudan that is why Sudan is supporting it,” he stressed.
The president of Tanzania, one of the upstream countries of the river, who was visited by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy two weeks ago also said that countries on the river have to develop the water on an equitable basis.
President Jakaya Kikwete stressed the position of Tanzania that it was the right of every country where the river flows, to use that water for its development.
“All countries where the river flows, in one way or another, have the same rights to use the river water for their country’s development, and this is Tanzania‘s position” said President Kikwete, adding that he believes in fair use of water in all countries where the river flows.
Experts said that it is a good implication that the campaign is baseless. The Ethiopian government frequently stated that only dialogue is an option for mutual benefit as opposed to what Egypt is doing.
Since Egypt came up with an unacceptable issue on the tripartite discussions held in Khartoum, the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been suspended.
Egypt has an interest in halting the project until another study is carried out by experts on the project, while Ethiopia has strongly rejected Egypt’s request. Ethiopia stated that the project will never stop for a second and it is going ahead based on the schedule