Egypt Watch

Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s Renaissance Dam proposal

On Saturday Ahmed Nagash, Executive Director of the Regional Technical Office for the East Nile, said that Egypt is acting as the owner of the Renaissance Dam.

The Regional Technical Office for East Nile is a regional office established in March 2001 by agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, based in Addis Ababa, to discuss joint water projects that have been grouped in the East Nile Basin Action Programme, which includes projects for flood control and the generation of electricity from river water.

In an interview published by the Ethiopian News Agency, Najash described with humour Egypt’s proposal on how to fill the dam.

On September 20 the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry rejected an Egyptian proposal on the Renaissance Dam project, describing it as “against the sovereignty of Ethiopia,” after Egypt announced the failure of the last round of negotiations held in Cairo on 15 and 16 of this month with ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on how to run and fill the dam.

“Egypt has proposed filling the dam within seven years if the water level in the Aswan dam reaches 165 metres above the ground, and Ethiopia should provide 40 billion cubic metres annually,” Nagash said, adding that Ethiopia immediately rejected the proposal because it violated its sovereignty and right to develop its resources.

“The logic is that Ethiopia is drawing up the mobilisation plan and then Egypt is commenting on it,” Nagash said.

Nagash identified two reasons why Ethiopia rejected the Egyptian proposal, the first is that “for Ethiopia issuing 40 billion cubic metres will have a significant impact on the filling time, as well as an economic and moral impact as well as the matter of the sovereignty of the country.”

The second reason is that Addis Ababa will never be able to fill the dam if it accepts the launch of 40 billion cubic metres and maintains the level of the Aswan Dam at 165 metres above ground. The flow of the Nile fluctuates between 29 billion cubic metres and 74 billion cubic metres. It is difficult to release this large amount of water and maintain the water level in the Aswan Dam.

Egypt is counting on the meetings of the independent scientific group to be held in Khartoum from September 30 to October 3, which will be followed by a meeting of water ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in the Sudanese capital on October 4 and 5, in the resumption of negotiations that have continued since March 2011.

Earlier, Ethiopian Electric Power Chief Abraham Pillay said that 68.3 per cent of the Renaissance Dam project had been completed and the rest would be completed in 2023. The Ethiopian Prime Minister stressed that the completion of the dam is on time and is his government’s main priority.