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Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to meet over Blue Nile waters in Khartoum

July 5 - 2015 CAIRO
Scale-model of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the source of the Blue Nile
Scale-model of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the source of the Blue Nile

Within two weeks, a tripartite meeting by Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia will be held in Khartoum to resume negotiations on the impact of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River’s water provision on the two downstream countries.

The decision was taken at a meeting of 12 experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, which was concluded in Cairo on Friday. Representatives from two international consultancy firms, the French BRL Group and the Dutch Deltares, attended the meeting

The Water and Irrigation Ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are scheduled to take part in the planned talks.

Egypt's Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moghazi said that Cairo's three-day talks tackled technical aspects of a study on the effects of the huge hydro-electric dam at the source of the Blue Nile, to be conducted by the two consultancy firms.

Framework agreement

On 23 March, Egyptian President Abdelfattah El Sisi, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, signed a framework accord on the Grand Renaissance Dam in Khartoum.

The three countries agreed on the Sudanese and Egyptian shares of electricity generated by the Renaissance Dam, expected to reach 6,000 megawatts, a mechanism for resolving conflicts, and compensation in case of damages. The three signatories will be bound to the recommendations of the firms that will assess the impact of the dam on the water provision in Sudan and Egypt.

In 2013, Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile, to build the 6,000 MW dam, which will be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017. The construction of the 1,780-metre-long and 145-metre high dam will cost $4.2 billion. 

Cairo strongly protested Ethiopia’s intention to replace a 1929 British treaty that granted Egypt the biggest share of the Nile's water, as well as veto power over any project involving the Nile by upstream countries. Some Egyptian officials even proposed military action over the construction of the Renaissance Dam, as they fear that the Renaissance Dam will further increase its water shortages.

The Nile, with 6,700 kilometres the world's longest river, flows through Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Of the four major tributaries to the Nile, three originate from Ethiopia: the Blue Nile, Sobat, and Atbara rivers.

In 1999, the Ministers of Water Resources of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, established the Nile Basin Initiative, to prevent escalation of simmering conflicts over the use of the river’s water. Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda are backing the Ethiopian dam project.


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