By Al Arabiya,
Foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed a “Khartoum document,” aimed to resolve differences about the upcoming Renaissance Dam project, following their meeting today in the Sudanese capital.
The agreement finalizes the firm tasked with carrying out studies on the potential impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the flow of the Nile, their foreign and water ministers said.
Alaa Yassin, the Egyptian official responsible for the Renaissance Dam project and adviser to the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation who participated in the negotiations, told Al Arabiya News in a phone call from Khartoum that the document says that a French firm was chosen to participate in executing the studies that would last between 8 to 12 months.
He added that there is an agreement that filling the dam will be possible only after a consensus among the three countries and to held regular meetings between representatives of the three countries to resolve the outstanding differences and to respond to the Egyptian concerns with regards to filling the dam with water.
Egyptian sources reported that the foreign and irrigation ministers will hold a new six-party meeting in Khartoum next February 7, to discuss contentious issues, and proposals from Egypt and Sudan.
According to other reports, the three countries had initially picked French firm BRL and Dutch firm Deltares in April but Deltares later withdrew leading them to replace it with Artelia, another French firm, on Tuesday.
The leaders of the three countries signed a cooperation deal in Khartoum in March that paved the way for a joint approach to regional water supplies.
Cairo and Addis Ababa had previously been locked in a bitter war of words over Ethiopia’s $4 billion project, which is designed to feed a hydroelectric plant that will produce 6,000 megawatts.
Tuesday’s agreement came after talks between the foreign and water ministers of the three countries had to be extended for a third day.
The principles in the March agreement included giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam, a mechanism for resolving conflicts, and providing compensation for damages.
Signatories also pledged to protect the interests of downstream countries when the dam’s reservoir is filled.
Egypt draws about 90 percent of its water from the Nile, which runs from Khartoum to the south, where the Blue and White Nile rivers converge. It is concerned the dam could negatively affect the supply.
Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan Sign Renaissance Dam Agreement
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia signed a deal Tuesday on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) following three days of meetings in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
Attempts to reach consensus on the deal have been taking place throughout the past year via dialogue among the concerned parties.
In September 2014, local expert committees from Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia recommended conducting two more studies on the GERD. The first proposed test was on the dam’s impact on Egypt and Sudan’s water shares, and the second on the anticipated environmental, economic and social impact on both Sudan and Egypt.
Then, in March 2015, the three countries signed a Declaration of Principles in Khartoum articulating the continuation of talks on political and technical issues, as well as conducting technical studies to protect the three countries’ shares in the river Nile.
“The deal is the culmination of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries’ leaders last March,” said Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour during a press conference Tuesday.
Ghandour said the deal stipulates the three countries’ consensus on a French Office to finalize the GERD’s technical studies; speeding up said studies; solid commitment to the Declaration of Principles; advancing confidence building as well as coordinating regular meetings between Foreign and Water Ministries in the three countries.
“A fixed timetable is in place for finalizing the technical studies,” he noted.
Ghandour described the deal as “historic,” reaffirming the three countries’ shared readiness to refine dialogue, develop confidence and enhance strategic partnerships with secure ties and shared interests.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, expressed his satisfaction with the deal, saying “it reflects the three countries’ shared willingness to overcome all barriers.”
“During three days of dialogue, the importance of enhancing confidence and reaching common interests on equitable opportunities was highlighted. We have arrived at a good deal,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, reiterated his country’s commitment to work with both Sudan and Egypt, stressing the importance of a strategic partnership between the three countries.
The GERD unsettles Egypt as it fears the dam could impact its share in the Nile river, which amounts to 55.5 billion cubic meters. Equally, Ethiopia stated that the dam will most likely affect its resources, namely in the electricity sector.
The GERD extends over an area of 1,800 square km, and is expected to be finalized in three years, at a cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.