The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation yesterday announced the return of Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati from a three-day overseas tour to Sudan and Ethiopia to discuss the latest developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and its negative effects on Egypt’s share of the Nile waters, which is estimated at 55 billion cubic metres.
The Minister handed Egypt’s final vision of the filling and operation rules of the Renaissance Dam to the Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Seleshi Bekele. The pair met during a discussion held at the Ethiopian Ministry of Water.
This was accompanied by a joint Egyptian-Sudanese request to hold a sixth meeting for ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs from the three countries in order to discuss the crisis caused by Ethiopia’s expediting of the dam’s construction process.
The Egyptian Minister of Irrigation said in an official statement yesterday, immediately after his return from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, that Egyptian expertise was presented in the field of water resource management and improving the efficiency of using watergrass.
Abdel-Ati explained that the Ethiopian side was invited to contribute to this expertise, stressing Egypt’s readiness to implement bilateral projects which will contribute to supporting and consolidating cooperation between the two countries.
According to Egyptian government sources, the Egyptian vision also included a commitment to the need for Egyptian experts or an international technical mission to observe the management and operation of the dam after its completion.
The sources added that the Egyptian viewpoint included a proposal to fill the reservoir of the dam over a seven-year period, which Egyptian experts believe will reduce the negative effects on Egypt’s share of water.
“Despite the needed 7 years to fill the reservoir, this period also includes Egypt’s bearing of quite numerous negative effects,” the sources added, saying that “Cairo provided a detailed report on the cost it will bear by the storage of water behind the dam, which Addis Ababa insists should not last more than three years”.
The sources pointed out that the file also included detailed items concerning the 70 billion Egyptian pounds that Egypt would bear in the construction of desalination plants over nine years to compensate for the period of deficit that would result from the process of filling the reservoir on the Egyptian side of the Nile.
The item also included other measures Egypt will take, including the reduction of large areas of water-intensive crops such as rice, the amount of financial losses borne by Egypt in this context, how it has turned from a crop-exporting country to an importing country, and the extent to which the state treasury is bearing the cost of these step.