Renaissance dam right on track: Ethiopia irrigation minister

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Addis Ababa, 13 January 2014 (WIC) - Ethiopian minister says on Monday Grand Renaissance Dam faces neither financial nor technical problems.

Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu said on Monday the process of building the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam was on track without difficulties, adding that the project will be completed on schedule.

The Ethiopian minister's words contrast with statements made by the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry Spokesman Khaled Waseef who, on 8 January, said in a press statement the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam faces financial as well as technical problems, as reported by MENA.

The Ethiopian media reiterated the minister's assurances there were neither financial nor technical problems affecting the project.

Tegenu added that Ethiopia does not accept Egypt's proposal which calls for the formation of a parallel team of international experts alongside the existing one for additional negotiations over the project.

The planned Grand Renaissance Dam is a $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile. The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May last year, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about possible effects on Egypt's share of the Nile water, the country's main source of potable water.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam and try to generate consensus. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project.

In recent meetings in Khartoum, the tripartite committee was scheduled to formulate a document that entails "confidence building measures" between the countries, and also to form a special international conflict-resolution committee. Both plans failed as Egypt and Ethiopia refused to see eye-to-eye.

In June, Ethiopia's parliament ratified an international treaty, which Egypt opposes, allowing upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt's approval.

The deal replaces colonial-era agreements that grant Egypt and Sudan the majority of Nile River water rights. (ahramonline)

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