Egypt and Ethiopia agreed on Thursday to hold a meeting of its tripartite committee on the Nile, which also includes Sudan, to assess the potential effects of Ethiopia's building what it is calling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river. The exact date of the meeting will be determined after Addis Ababa and Khartoum review the terms of the committee's purview.
The announcement came at a press conference held by Egypt's Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Hesham Mohamed Qandil and his Ethiopian counterpart, Almayho Tigno, Thursday evening at the Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry headquarters.
The ministers said they were waiting for Sudan's final reply to setting the committee's exact responsibilities. The committee will set mechanisms for future cooperation between the three countries in developing the Blue Nile.
They stressed that they did not discuss the Nile Basin Initiative, the consequences of which are scheduled to be discussed at a conference of energy ministers of Nile Basin countries in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, at the end of October.
Qandil said the tripartite committee will be responsible for fostering areas of cooperation in water resource management and exchanging technical expertise, as well as developing a memorandum of understanding to share expertise between Egypt and Ethiopia's human resource ministries.
Tigno stressed that according to studies carried out by Ethiopian experts, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile will not negatively affect either country's share of water.
He added that the dam will bring economic returns to Egypt and Sudan, reduce the siltation that threatens the Sudanese and Egyptian dams, control flooding, and regulate the flow of water to Egypt and Sudan throughout the year, as per the tripartite committee's tentative agreement.
The Addis Ababa government believes that Egypt and Sudan are capable of establishing regional economic projects to achieve sustainable development for their people, Tigno said, adding that Ethiopia can export the electricity generated from the dam to both Egypt and Sudan, like it now does to Djibouti.
The Ethiopian minister said his country has agreed to form a committee comprised of experts from all three countries in order to confirm these claims and continue cooperation between the countries.
In the future, energy from the dam can be exported to Kenya, Rwanda, and even South Africa, he added.
The Ethiopian minister denied rumors that the Nile water would be transferred to Israel, saying that it would be technically impossible to do so considering his country's geographic location.
Qandil said Egypt would not allow Nile water to be transferred to Israel through the Egypt-Israel border because it is currently banned by international law, emphasizing that Egypt rejects the idea of transferring water out of the Nile Basin. He noted that the government of Addis Ababa has the right to carry out development projects so long as it respects international law.