Egypt’s Irrigation minister: future negotiations with Ethiopia hinge on IPoE report

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The Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Baha’a El-Din says Egypt will look to minimise cons and maximise benefits of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Photo from Wikipedia)

Irrigation Minister Mohamed Baha’a El-Din said during his visit to Assiut that Egypt is waiting on a report by the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) on the effects of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Egypt’s share of the Nile water supply. The statement was made on Sunday, when the minister gave the green light to drain the Assiut aqueduct in order to improve and extend its foundations.

The minister said it is too early to say for certain whether the Ethiopian dam will have a negative impact, stressing the need to wait for the report, which is expected to be completed in May.

The IPoE is comprised of ten experts in the fields of water resources, hydrologic modelling and dam engineering, as well as socioeconomic and environmental experts from Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and members of the international community. The panel was established to review and relay the impact of the dam to the aforementioned countries.

Baha’a El-Din said the nature of future negotiations surrounding the dam hinge on what the panel reports, adding that negotiations between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia aim to mitigate the negative effects while simultaneously tapping into and expanding its positive effects.

The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been the subject of controversy among the Nile countries. In April the head of the Egyptian Fishing Authority Amani Ismail said: “There is no longer room for doubt that Egypt is facing a real disaster in the coming months.”

Ismael said that the dam would change the course of the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile, adding that she believes the loss of water would reduce the electricity output from Egypt’s Aswan Dam by 25%-30%.

Egypt and Sudan are the largest recipients of Nile water, as per colonial agreements signed in 1929 and 1959 which ensure Egypt receives roughly 55 billion cubic metres of water annually; the Nile produces an estimated 84 billion cubic metres.