02 January 2016, Khartoum — Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have named two French firms to conduct fresh studies on the impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam.
After three days of talks in Khartoum between the ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs of the three countries, it was agreed to replace the Dutch and French companies initially selected to undertake the studies.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Gandour disclosed that France’s Artelia and BRL groups have been selected to do the work.
He told a press conference that tripartite agreement was an extension of the declaration of principles signed by the three countries in Khartoum last March, noting that they had committed themselves to the implementation of the new agreement.
The three countries have agreed to conduct two additional studies on the impact of the dam.
The first study is to evaluate the effect of the dam on the water quota for Sudan and Egypt and the second is to assess the dam’s ecological, economic and social impacts on the two downstream countries.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Samih Shoukri said that all his country’s and Sudan’s concerns regarding water security and quotas had been addressed in the new agreement.
For his part, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reconfirmed his country’s commitment to implement the outcome of the studies by the French companies and called on the Egyptian and Sudanese officials, together with international media, to visit the location of the dam in Ethiopia.
“We have nothing to hide. We should inspect the dam site and this would promote partnership and build trust,” he assured.
The three countries agreed that the firms undertaking the assessment studies should complete the work in 9 months.
They also agreed on the bases for filling and running the dam besides establishing a coordination mechanism.
There will be another meeting in February to discuss the recommendations of the technical committee comprising experts from the three countries and the consultant companies.
Cairo wants more thorough studies on the dam’s effects on its water supply, which is almost entirely dependent on the Blue Nile.
Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile were guaranteed by two treaties – of 1929 and 1959 – which allowed her 87 per cent of the river’s flow as well as veto power over upstream projects.
But a new deal signed in 2010 by upstream Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allows them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.
The agreement signed in Uganda endorsed water-sharing between the Nile Basin’s 11 other countries.
In March this year, the heads of state of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan signed an agreement on the sharing of the River Nile waters.
The deal signed in Khartoum formed the basis of the operations of Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam.
*Mohammed Amin – The East African