Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nile issues on agenda of PM's upcoming Africa tour | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt

The Nile river in Aswan
Photographed by other
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced on Thursday that he will make an African tour to discuss Egypt’s rights to Nile water in early May, noting that he has received “positive signals” with regards to this issue.
Meeting with the Egyptian Diaspora in Doha at the conclusion of his Gulf tour, Sharaf said in around ten days he would travel to Ethiopia, Congo and Uganda and possibly other countries. "We have created a completely different environment and there are very encouraging signals from Ethiopia.
“We have strategies and we have talked to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. We all believe that each country has the right to develop but that it must do so without infringing on others’ rights," he said.
Sharaf attempted to assuage any fears that Egypt might compromise its water share, saying there are upstream projects in the works that might increase water flow to Egypt.
Egypt is against a water agreement signed by upstream Nile countries Uganda, Rawanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Burundi that changes Egypt and Sudans historical rights to water flow. The treaty will take effect when it is endorsed by the parliaments of signatory countries.
In a reversal of colonial-era agreements, the new pact gives Nile Basin countries the right to develop irrigation projects and establish dams without securing Egypt’s permission. The existing 1929 treaty gives Egypt and Sudan the right to nearly all of the Nile's flow as well as veto power over any upstream project.
Egyptian officials have been taking steps to improve relations with Nile Basin countries by holding meetings with senior diplomats from Kenya, Ethiopia and other countries.

Egypt delegation to visit Ethiopia over Renaissance Dam

CAIRO: The “Egyptian People’s Diplomatic Delegation” will visit Ethiopia on Friday to discuss the construction of the so-called Renaissance Dam on the river Nile. Several Egyptian politicians and activists will meet with Ethiopian officials and political representatives including Prime Minister Melas Zenawi. The aim of the visit is to deliver a relaxing message regarding a recently heated dispute on Nile water shares.
The visit comes after Ethiopian Minister for Water Resources recently ruled out permission to Egypt to visit the site of the Dam.
Ethiopia blames Egyptian authorities for not signing the Entebbe Agreement, adding that Egyptian Authorities would be allowed to visit the Dam, were they to agree to the charter.
The Entebbe Agreement was undersigned by the majority of upstream countries, including Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. The charter sanctioned the beginning of a new regional cooperation based on the re-negotiation of Nile water shares.
Following the undersigning of the Agreement, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi inaugurated the construction of the so-called Renaissance Dam on 2 April, saying that it will greatly contribute to the Development of Ethiopia as a nation.
The projects was contracted by Italian company Salini Costruttori for €3,350bln ($4,916bln). The Dam will be the biggest Hydroelectric plants ever built in Africa, producing 5250 MW. The plants will begin regular activity starting from 2014, and its hydroelectric potential will be expanded to 10,000 MW before 2017.
In related news, the Amibara Agricultural Development Plc pledged 1.2 million birr ($71,540) in investment through the purchase of bonds to support the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Reportedly, employees agreed upon spending a month’s salary to buy bonds from the Ethiopian central bank.
Apart from spontaneous contributions by Ethiopian institutions and citizens, there are serious suspicions that the Ethiopian Government will not be able to fund the work.
“The provenience of most funding for this and other Ethiopian Dams is utterly unclear,” declared an ex-officer of the Italian Cooperation in Ethiopia who refused to be credited.
Ethiopian opposition Party Medrek recently question the government around the feasibility of the project.
This is due to the lack of transparency in the administration, of preliminary studies on the sustainability of the project and of the possibility that future geopolitical issues may arise following the Dam’s construction.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ethiopia won't allow inspection of dam, but ready to negotiate with post-Mubarak Egypt - Al-Masry Al-Youm

Egypt will not be allowed to examine a new mega dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile unless Cairo signs a deal relinquishing its power of veto over allocation of the river's waters, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said two days ago.
<p>Nile Basin States</p>
Asked if Addis Ababa will allow Egypt to reassure itself that the dam will not affect the flow of Nile water, he said, “We are ready for negotiations and cooperation at the highest and technical level, but we are a sovereign state.”
At a press conference, Hailemariam said "The Cooperative Framework Agreement (signed by upstream countries) gives this option (examination) to all countries, so we have to engage ourselves to get to an agreement where we can work together equally.”
He also said that relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have improved since the ouster of ex-president Hosni Mubarak. "There's a new momentum now in Egypt after the revolution, there's desire from all sides that we should engage and close all the past chapters, because there were ups and downs in the past."
Meanwhile, Egyptian diplomatic sources also said that both are seeking to restore confidence and turn over a new leaf.
Though declining to comment on Hailemariam's statement that Egypt may not inspect the Grand Millennium Dam, sources pointed out however that the two countries are communicating to set a date for a visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to Ethiopia in May.
The sources said Sharaf’s visit will be part of an African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These visits are expected to have a positive impact on relations with Nile Basin countries, the sources said.
Translated from the Arabic Edition

Friday, April 22, 2011

Egypt looks to build closer ties with Ethiopia - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egypt’s Ministry of Water and Resources announced today that it wishes to open a new page in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations based on good will and the intention of improving cooperation around mutually advantageous developmental projects.

A spokesperson for the ministry said Egypt, in line with accepted legal practice, has officially requested from the Ehtiopians all information related to the proposed "Millennium Dam" on the Blue Nile so that Egypt can study its effects on the nature of the Nile and downstream countries.

He added that Egypt’s final position on the dam will be determined by its affect on Egypt's water quota. The spokesperson went on to add that Egypt hopes Ethiopia will prove receptive to its initiative for building new relations based on transparency.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Egypt and Ethiopia quarrel over water- The Economist

The River Nile

A dam nuisance

Egypt and Ethiopia quarrel over water

MOST of the water meandering down the lower reaches of the Nile, the world’s longest river, comes from the Ethiopian highlands, putting rulers in Addis Ababa, the capital, in a position of unusual power, one they have rarely dared to exploit. But since Egypt, the biggest and most influential consumer of Nile water, is distracted by revolutionary upheaval at home, this may be changing. Ethiopia and the other upstream countries—Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—have banded together to rewrite a 1959 treaty that favours Egypt.
They may succeed. After decades of strong population growth, Ethiopia has overtaken Egypt as Africa’s second-most-numerous nation. The total population of the upstream countries is 240m against 130m for the downstream duo of Egypt (85m) and Sudan (45m), whose 14m southerners will soon be independent and are being courted by both sides.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, is determined to dam his bit of the Nile. On April 2nd he laid the foundation for the Grand Millennium Dam. With a planned hydropower capacity of 5.25 gigawatts and a flooded canyon twice as voluminous as the country’s largest lake, it is the centrepiece of a plan to increase the country’s electricity supply fivefold by 2015.

How will Ethiopia pay? Chinese banks are apparently underwriting the cost of turbines and other electrical equipment. That still leaves one of the poorest countries in the world a good $3 billion short. Some engineers think the cost will exceed $4.8 billion. Ethiopians are being urged to subscribe to a bond issue on patriotic grounds. But it is unlikely to generate more than a fraction of the required amount. Neither the World Bank nor private investors are willing to put up the cash, since Ethiopia has failed to create partnerships with power companies in neighbouring countries to which it could sell electricity. The Nile’s geology may be favourable for dam building, but the flow of money is not.Mr Meles insists that Egypt will also benefit from the dam, saying it is being offered the chance to buy cheaper power. But he hardly exudes goodwill, accusing Egyptians of trying to undermine Ethiopia’s search for funds to build the thing. In any event, says Mr Meles, Ethiopia will push ahead, using “every ounce of our strength, every penny we can save, to complete our programme.”