The Tripartite National Committee (TNC) of the Abay/Nile River riparian countries of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan had postponed ratifying the environmental impacts assessment proposal until its next meeting in Cairo in the coming month.
A hydrology simulation model and socioeconomic impacts assessment studies on the Ethiopian iconic electric project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), will be the areas that the companies undertake.
The two consulting companies French-based BRL Ingenierie, a lead consultant of the study, and the sub-contracting Dutch company Deltares were expected to deliver an updated technical proposal to the TNC ahead of meeting that was held in Addis Ababa for two days this week. Nevertheless, the consultants failed to present the document in time. The two companies won the international bid four months ago to undertake the study on the GERD.
At the Khartoum meeting that was held in July, the countries had agreed that the companies would submit an updated proposal before their convention in Addis Ababa. The three countries have agreed to meet in early September at the Egyptian capital of Cairo to review the proposal. The exact date for the 9th TNC meeting will be decided later, according to Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy statement.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy had disclosed the TNC had agreed to issue further clarifications and instructions to the consultants. The ministry had requested the consultants to submit the Updated Technical Proposal (UTP) to the TNC for review. Sources said that the French company will submit a detailed proposal that shows clearly the responsibilities of the two sub-contracting companies within two weeks as of the end of the Addis Ababa meeting.
The multi billion dollar GERD project that is being constructed on the Tikur Abay/Blue Nile River will become the biggest ever hydroelectric project on the African continent. The dam is designed to generate 6,000MW electric power, which will be partly for local consumption, and for export.
At the coming meeting, the three countries are expected to sign a deal with the consultants. The consultancy fee and time frame of the study are also areas the countries are expected to agree on at the Cairo meeting.
Since the commencement of the GERD’s construction that will consume more than USD 4.2 billion, the downstream country Egypt fiercely claimed that the dam may harm its interest; even though Ethiopia continuously asserted that the project will never have any significant effect on the downstream countries.
In March 2015, the heads of government of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia had signed a declaration of principles on the dam, agreeing to safeguard the interests of all three countries, which is the first ever agreement on the Nile River that included Ethiopia, the main water source for the river.
Ethiopia contributes over 86 percent of the Nile water, and the rest 14 percent is contributed by seven upper Nile tributary countries.