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FILE Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019.[File photo: Reuters]
Egypt hopes to reach a final, viable and binding agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan regarding filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the coming talks in Washington on Jan. 28-29, an Egyptian official told Xinhua on Saturday.
“We are working on turning the general frameworks agreed upon in the meetings in Washington on Jan. 13-15 into items of a final and binding agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in the meetings on Jan. 28-29,” said Mohamed al-Sebaie, spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation
The water and foreign ministers of the three countries have recently started new rounds of talks joined by representatives from the United States and the World Bank after years of fruitless negotiations.
While upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia and downstream Sudan eye massive benefits from the GERD construction, downstream Egypt is concerned it might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water.
“We seek an agreement that achieves Ethiopia’s aspiration for development through power generation from the dam and preserves the water rights of the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, at the same time,” Sebaie told Xinhua.
Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years. The longer the better for Egypt to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.
Egypt seeks a minimum annual flow of 40 billion cubic meters of water from the river’s Blue Nile branch to its lands, while Ethiopia wants to allow an annual passage of 35 billion cubic meters only during the period of filling the dam and the times of drought.
Sebaie said that the ongoing consultations before Washington meetings aim at reaching points of consensus that address and consider the concerns and interests of the three states.
“In the latest meetings in Washington, we initially agreed on general frameworks and outlines that were controversial and we hope to turn them into fixed items in a viable agreement to be signed by the three parties,” the Egyptian water ministry’s spokesman explained.
He pointed out that the issue is not about specifying a number of years for filling the GERD but it is about reaching an agreement on the mechanisms of filling the dam and its post-filling operation.
“It has to consider the river’s hydrological conditions and the amount of rains that differ from year to year,” Sebaie said.
“We aspire for a fair, binding agreement that does not much affect the interests of any of the three parties,” the Egyptian spokesman told Xinhua.
Ethiopia started building its grand hydropower dam in 2011 on the Blue Nile branch, and it is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.
By Halligan AgadeSource: CGTN Africa
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