Uncompromising Diplomacy On GERD

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Ethiopia will go ahead with project despite commitments to downstream countries
Ethiopia may not consult the downstream countries about filling water at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Motuma Mekasa, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE), said the country would commence water filling when construction work allows.
At a press briefing addressing all the three downstream countries (Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt), the minister emphasized that decision making and further action on the project will go on despite commitment to the Hydrology Simulation Model and Socioeconomic Impacts Assessment to be carried out by two French companies.
“We don’t have a deal with the countries that states that we will stop the project or suspend filling,” the Minister said.
“The three countries are eager about the commencement of the study. We also support the study and want its completion within a short period because it will create more trust between countries,” he added. On the topic of trust, the Minister also expressed concern about Egyptian media’s way of reporting on the project, citing incidents of inaccurate coverage of negotiations between the downstream countries.
BRL Ingenierie and Artelia, selected few weeks ago to replace the Dutch based Deltares, are to sign a contract in February to commence the study, says the Minister. According to the BRL, the lead consulting firm with a 70 percent share, the study will take 11 months.
BRL is not new for Ethiopian projects. In the past years the company has undertaken the study of other dam projects in Ethiopia. Sogreah, one of the two companies that formed Artelia, has also undertaken several studies in Ethiopia that related with water projects including the Gibe III and Awash basin since the previous regimes. Artelia established in 2010 after the merger between Sogreah and Coteba.
Detailed responsibility of the two companies will be disclosed in the coming meeting scheduled for early February in Ethiopia, according to the Minster.