Ethiopia turns down Egypt’s request to suspend dam construction

  • PDF

Addis Ababa, February 12 (WIC) – Ethiopia has turned down Egypt’s renewed request to temporarily halt the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). 
Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Motteleb was in Addis Ababa on Monday where he held talks with Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
During that meeting Abdel Motteleb put forth a proposal for Ethiopia to suspend the construction of the dam until further studies are finalized, Ambassador Dina Mufti, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told WIC. The proposal was swiftly rejected by Ethiopia, Dina said.
The International Panel of Experts (IPoE) which conducted a year-long study on the dam’s impact concluded that the GERD will have no significant harm on downstream countries. However, in their report the experts recommended that further studies on hydrological simulation modeling and trans-boundary social and environmental impact assessment be carried out jointly.
Since then Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been engaged in a series of talks to implement the recommendations. The talks had been deemed fruitful in terms of agreements reached to establish a joint commission which will hire international experts to conduct the studies.
However, talks have stalled following Egypt’s proposal to establish a parallel international team of experts to assess the dam’s impact. This proposal was rejected by Ethiopia.   
In his recent meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister also reiterated his country’s interest in the establishment of parallel international experts.
In an interview with the VOA, Alemayehu Tegenu said Ethiopia insisted on having trilateral discussions which included Sudan on the issue.
Sudan, another downstream country, backs the construction of the dam. However, the three countries are yet to reach at a common ground on how to go about implementing the IPoE recommendations. After three rounds of negotiations, a date for a fourth meeting is yet to be set to resolve the outstanding issues.