Egypt’s irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb will go to Addis Ababa on Monday, but has already said that Egypt is not ready to compromise on its previous stance to the Ethiopian dam project
Ahram Online, Sunday 9 Feb 2014
Ethiopia’s irrigation minister has invited his Egyptian counterpart to the capital of Addis Ababa for further talks on Monday, in hopes of ending a political impasse between the two Nile countries over a proposed hydroelectric dam.
Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website reported on Sunday that Egyptian irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb had accepted the invitation from Ethiopia’s Alemayehu Tegenu and will travel with members from his ministry’s Nile water sector as well as the country’s foreign ministry.
Ahead of the talks, however, Abdel-Motteleb announced that Egypt’s position on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam “is fixed,” a harbinger that Monday’s negotiations may not offer the kind of compromise that Ethiopia may be hoping for.
According to Al-Ahram, Motteleb said that Ethiopia could still achieve economic prosperity without impeding upon Egypt’s access to the Nile.
When completed, the $4.2 billion dam will be the largest in Africa and number 10 in the world in terms of electricity production.
The two countries have been locked in a political feud since news of the dam was first aired on Egyptian TV in 2013, with Cairo arguing that the project will diminish its supply of the river’s water.
Last June Ethiopia’s parliament ratified an international treaty granting upstream countries the right to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without seeking Egypt’s approval.
For decades, Egypt held veto rights over all upstream projects thanks to a 1929 colonial-era agreement in which the UK gave Egypt and Sudan the majority of the Nile’s water rights.
Several rounds of negotiations over the dam have already taken place between Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to study the dam’s possible effects and try to generate consensus.
However, the tripartite committee’s success was thwarted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.