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Minister says Egypt’s approval of Ethiopian dam depends on study results

The Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam Moghady stated that Egypt would approve the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam pending the results of research.

Following the successful conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations, a joint statement was released by the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan which stated that the meetings had been fruitful and the dam would be subject to two more studies conducted by a team of international experts. The studies are set to take place over a period of six months, starting from September 1, 2014.  According to the statements, Ethiopia agreed to adopt the recommendations of these studies on the construction of the dam.

The three previous rounds failed due to what former Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Meteleb characterized as Ethiopian obstinacy.

However, according to Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry, the failure of talks in February 2014 was due to the fact that Egypt wanted experts from outside of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to join the committee monitoring the dam. The ministry stated that “Ethiopia and Sudan have made it clear they see no need for anything more than representatives from the three countries on the proposed committee.”

Furthermore, a technical committee of international experts with four representatives from each of the three countries will be formed to monitor the dam’s construction.  

Moghady clarified in his statement to the state-owned Middle East News Agency that Egypt has not given its final approval on the dam’s construction and that its agreement is subject to the results of the upcoming studies.

Ethiopia already began construction of the dam in May 2013. According to MENA, following the wrap up of negotiations, Ethiopia’s minister of irrigation stated that construction of the dam would not be halted while further studies are conducted. The dam will cost an approximate US$4.2 billion and is due to be completed in 2017.  It is estimated that it will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

85 percent of Egypt’s water flows through Nile Basin countries. Egypt has previously expressed concern that the dam could obstruct the flow of water to Egypt, despite Ethiopia’s repeated assurances to the contrary.