Cairo to host Ethiopia, Sudan for dam talks on 16-17 October

A committee of experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will convene to choose an international consultancy firm to investigate the impact of the controversial project on the region

The irrigation and water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will meet in Cairo next week to discuss the process of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Egyptian minister Hossam El-Moghazy has said.

Cairo will host the second round of talks on 16-17 October, where a 12-expert panel will choose an international consultancy firm to investigate the hydrological, social and environmental effects of the Ethiopian project on Egypt and Sudan, both downstream of the dam. Talks are also planned to exchange recent findings by the three African nations on the impact of the hydropower dam.

Cairo is concerned that the $4.2 billion dam project, which the Ethiopian government says is now 40 percent complete, could negatively affect its water supply.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile, a Nile tributary, in May last year for the building of the 6,000 MW dam, planned to be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017.

The upcoming Cairo talks of the tripartite ‘National Committee’, made up of four experts from each nation, have been put forward by four days to better fit the agendas of the three ministers who will attend, the Egyptian minister said in a statement on Thursday.

The first round of the talks was held in Addis Ababa on 20 September, with officials saying at the time it signaled progress in negotiations.

A panel of specialists, including several international experts, concluded last year that studies to assess the dam’s impact on the flow of the Nile were insufficient and that further investigations were needed.

In August, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to complete the dam studies within six months.

Ethiopia and other Nile Basin countries signed a 2010 pact to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior consent, claiming that Egypt’s claims to the bulk of the Nile water is invalid.

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