October 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to choose an international firm that will study the hydrological and socio-environmental impacts of Ethiopia’s massive hydro power plant project being built on the Nile river.
Delegates attending the Nile Basin Development Forum in Nairobi, Kenya on 6 October 2014 (Photo courtesy the NBDF)
Following the ongoing tripartite meeting in Cairo, the three countries have nominated seven international consultancy firms from Germany, Australia, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The seven firms are reportedly due in Cairo to meet the three countries’ representatives.
The tripartite technical committee is scheduled to hold its next round of talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on 4 December while selecting a firm will take place on 16 December in Addis Ababa.
The 4.3 billion dollar power plant has become a source of dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt as the latter fears that the massive dam with 74 billion cubic metre reservoir will reduce its water levels.
Cairo says Nile river is the only water source for its over 90 million people and insists its historic water agreement, which give it enough water resources, are maintained.
However, other upper riparian countries led by Ethiopia, which is the source of 85% of the water resource are joined to reverse the colonial era treaty, demanding a fair and equitable share.
The neutral international consultancy firm to be hired is believed to narrow existing differences between the three countries by professionally helping over the studies to be executed by the 12 tripartite experts Committee withdrawn four from each country.
By doing so the firm is expected to avoid any further dispute and would build trust and confidence among the three countries.
Addis Ababa says the hydro power plant project being built in Nile River near Sudanese border has no significant impact on lower riparian countries of Sudan and Egypt. Ethiopian officials say the dam project should not be a source confrontation rather be a means of development cooperation and economic partnership.
Despite what the outcome of the tripartite talks turns out to be, Ethiopia insists nothing would stop the country from pushing forward the construction of the dam.
Last month, the three water Ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan who met in Addis Ababa for talks over the dam visited the controversial power plant project.
Upon completion, the dam, which would be Africa’s largest, will have capacity of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity, making the country a major regional power hub and further enabling it to sell electricity to more countries including to Egypt.
Ethiopia currently exports hydro power processed electricity to Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.