By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 22, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan successfully concluded a tripartite ministerial meeting on the controversial Ethiopian Nile dam project by signing cooperation agreements on Monday.
The three nations, during the three day meeting held in Ethiopia, announced the establishment of a technical committee comprising of four experts from each country.
The tripartite national technical committee, which is tasked with conducting additional studies on the impacts of the massive Ethiopian dam on lower riparian countries, begins its work on Tuesday.
The 12-member experts committee will conduct its studies based on the recommendations forwarded by an international panel of experts, which previously made the assessments.
The committee was established today based on agreements reached during the fourth tripartite Nile talks held in Khartoum last month between the three countries.
Following the meeting, water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan expressed satisfaction over the successful deliberation and accomplishment of the meeting saying it will open a new chapter in cooperation between the three countries.
The ministers, in a joint statement, said the progress achieved from the latest round of talks will forge and strengthen trust and confidence among the three countries.
They further stressed that was a good start and step forward to discharge the responsibilities and expectations of their people and the region at large.
“This would lay the foundation for professional and responsible cooperation,” partly reads the statement.
The ministers also agreed to hold the next round of the national technical committee meeting next month in Cairo, Egypt where the three countries are expected to consult on which international consultancy firm will be hired by the tripartite experts committee.
On Sunday, the three water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan also visited the power plant project being built on the Nile River near the Sudanese border.
Following the visit, Sudanese minister of water resources and electricity, Mutaz Musa Abdalla Salim, said Khartoum strongly believes the dam the project has multiple benefits to his country and the region hoping next round of talks would even be more successful.
Salim said the region had come to understand the importance of the dam adding that Sudan was ready to provide the necessary support to the successful completion of the project.
Egypt’s water and irrigation Mminister, Hossam Moghazi, said the hydropower dam project should not be a source confrontation, but rather a means of regional integration and economic partnership.
The $4.6-billion-dollar power plant project, which would be Africa’s largest, has become a source of fierce dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt as the latter fears that the massive dam project will diminish its water share.