Ethiopia unhappy with Egypt’s ‘unconstructive’ comments on Nile dam project

The Ethiopian foreign affairs ministry has accused Egypt of constantly giving unconstructive comments on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which is being built on the River Nile.

The dam is a subject of contention between Ethiopia and Egypt, with the latter expressing concern that it will affect the flow of water to its fields and reservoirs.

The spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs of Ethiopia, Meles Alem told journalists on Thursday that the Egypt’s top diplomat Sameh Shoukry has consistently said the dam will negatively affect downstream countries, despite assurances by Ethiopia and Sudan.

I can’t specify what the disagreements were, but they were technical issues.

Shoukry on Monday told reporters in Egypt that both Ethiopia and Sudan continued to have reservations about a technical report by a French firm commissioned to assess the dam’s environmental and economic impact.

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Egypt insists on its “historic rights” over the Nile’s waters, guaranteed by treaties dating from 1929 and 1959 that grant nearly 87% of the flow of the river to Egypt and Sudan.

The last round of talks between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt held on April 6 failed to resolve differences over the $4bn dam.

The 17 hour discussion that brought together foreign ministers, water ministers and intelligence officials were abandoned after disagreements on the technical aspects of the project.

‘‘We spent the whole day talking as ordered by the leaders of the three countries, but we didn’t reach an agreement… I can’t specify what the disagreements were, but they were technical issues,’‘ Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters at the time.

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Sudan which initially opposed the project has now backed Ethiopia’s plan to build the largest hydroelectric power station in Africa.

Alem and Shoukry both confirmed that the three countries are set to meet in Addis Ababa on May 15 to further pursue a diplomatic and technical resolution to the matter.

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