Ethiopia, Egypt differ on Nile dam statement

World Bulletin / News Desk

A 7-point statement issued following a June meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on a controversial Ethiopian dam on the Nile is a new source of contention between Addis Ababa and Cairo.

While Egypt wants to discuss the seven points of the statement, Ethiopia insists on discussing only the fourth point about the resumption of the tripartite talks.

“Egypt wants to discuss all the seven points of the communiqué but Ethiopia insists on discussing the 4th point alone,” Fekahmed Negash, director-general of boundary and trans-boundary rivers at Ethiopia’s Water Ministry, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

Negash said that “Ethiopia will discuss only this point because the rest are related to bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Egypt and they need to be considered separately.”

Set up in 2011, a tripartite technical committee was tasked with studying the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the two downstream states.

The committee’s activities, however, were suspended in January amid mounting tension between Cairo and Addis Ababa. But Addis Ababa, Cairo and Khartoum agreed to resume the tripartite talks on August 26.

In recent years, tension has marred relations between Ethiopia and Egypt over the former’s construction of a major dam project on the upper reaches of the Nile River, which represents Egypt’s primary water source.

Ethiopia says the dam is necessary for its national development plans. It insists the project won’t impact Egypt’s traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never acknowledged.

Ethiopian public cover 26 percent of cost

Some 26 percent of the total cost needed for the construction of a multi-billion dollar hydro-electric dam on the Nile are being covered by the Ethiopian public, an Ethiopian spokesman said Thursday.

“The public, including children, are showing interest to put their fingerprints on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),” Fekadu Ketema, spokesman for the office of the National Council for Coordination and Public Participation for the Construction of GERD, told Anadolu Agency.

“The bond sale is well in progress and additional fundraising mechanisms including SMS and lottery awards are put in place side by side with the bond sale with a view to enabling all segments of the society to provide financial support to the dam construction,” he said.

Ketema said that the fourth round of a bond purchasing program has already been launched.

“There is no shortage of money at all and such schemes are designed just to fulfill the interest of all Ethiopians to put their fingerprints on the dam,” he said.

He went on to say that even Salini Construction Company, the Italian firm which is building the dam, has confirmed that “there is no financial shortage for construction of the dam.”

Ketema expected that the 4.8-billion-dollar dam – of which 35.8 percent of its construction has completed – will be operational as scheduled.

Some 8750 employees are engaged in the construction of the dam with 2200 different types of machinery deployed to the site.

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