‘Ethiopia wants to harm Egypt’s water shares … We will never dispose of any drop of our water shares, as this is considered our right to live’ – MP
BY NOHA EL TAWIL | EGYPT TODAY
Hisham Magdy, member of the parliament’s African Affairs Committee, announced on Thursday that he is putting forward a motion to inquire about the measures taken by the government regarding the Renaissance Dam crisis to preserve Egypt’s water shares.
“All options are on the table. We will never dispose of any drop of our water shares, as this is considered our right to live. The prolongation of negotiations by Ethiopia over 16 sessions and the Sudanese non-cooperation are alarming. It is possible that we will go to the Security Council and International Court of Justice,” Magdy told El-Watan newspaper.
The MP stressed that Egypt will not forfeit its water shares indicated in the 1902 Agreement as 55.5 billion cubic meters. He added that Ethiopia’s goal of building the dam is political rather than developmental as it does not suffer from water shortage, and thus, could have built a dam with a lesser capacity to generate electricity.
“Ethiopia wants to harm Egypt’s water shares. It has political goals, and is backed by other countries,” Magdy said.
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Cairo hosted a Tripartite National Committee on Renaissance Dam (TNCRD) meeting on Sunday. They met to discuss the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. However, the meeting ended without reaching consensus. The meeting has become a subject of concern among experts, parliament members, and former officials.
Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdel-Ati, said that TNCRD did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin States after two days of talks.
Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.
Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual shares of more than 56 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt’s average water per-capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in 2014. Addis Ababa, however, claimed that the dam is necessary for its development and will not harm downstream countries.
Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi signed a tripartite joint cooperation agreement in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In December 2015, Sisi addressed the public, saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved. The three countries held 14 rounds of consultation on resolving the disputes over the Renaissance Dam. However, these rounds failed to solve the dispute.
Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam el-Moughazi stated in November 2015 that the dam’s construction is going faster than the tripartite talks. On October 1, The Telegraph reported that Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of the dam and then will start filling its reservoir.