M a r k e t N e w s

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan sign final contracts on Nile dam studies

Posted on : Wednesday, 21st September 2016

 Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have signed the final contracts for the long-awaited technical studies on the impact on downstream countries of a giant dam that Addis Ababa is building, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.

The signing that took place in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Monday was made between French consultancy firms BRL and Artelia, as well as British law firm Corbett, which will carry out studies on the potential impact of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam on the flow of the Nile.
Water and irrigation ministries from the three countries attended the signing ceremony during the 12th session of a tripartite ministerial committee.
In a statement obtained by Ahram Online, the Tripartite National Committee (TNC) of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said the meeting "was conducted in a very friendly and warm environment and reflected the cooperation among the three countries and all in attendance expressed their support and appreciation for the efforts exerted by the three countries." 
The giant hydroelectric dam project Ethiopia is building has been the source of contention between Cairo and Addis Ababa. Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming and drinking water, fears the dam would significantly diminish its share of the river's water.
The studies the French firms will conduct will include the modeling of water and hydroelectric resources as well as an assessment of the cross-border environmental, social and economic impact of the mega project and will take 11 months, Egypt’s Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty said.
The studies were earlier carried out on the recommendation of a panel of "international experts" on the Grand Renaissance Dam.
The Egyptian minister hailed Tuesday’s contracts as “historic,” adding that Cairo aims to cooperate with Sudan and Ethiopia to achieve “development in the three countries and reduce wastage of electric power,” according to MENA.
“We have faced significant challenges and managed to overcome them by making an effort and offering flexibility,” the minister said during his speech, in reference to the long delay of sealing the contracts. 
The final signing of the contract came following a series of delays, the latest earlier in September, over "outstanding issues between the French consultancy firms [BRL and Artelia] conducting the technical studies and the legal firm's [UK's Corbett&Co] wording of the contracts."
A cooperation agreement of principles was signed in March 2015 between the three countries that includes giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam and providing compensation for damages.
Signatories to the agreement pledged to protect the interests of downstream countries when the dam's reservoir is filled.
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam that has a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres and will be Africa's largest when completed in 2017. 
In several rounds of talks, Ethiopia has maintained the project -- which is 70% complete -- will have no effect on Sudan and Egypt and should benefit all sides.

Source : english.ahram.org.eg
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