November 11, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia has officially invited Egypt and Sudan for talks over a controversial dam project the horn of Africa country intends to build on the Blue Nile river.
- The Nile Rivers (Wikimedia Commons)
The invitation on Tuesday comes few weeks after Sudan has agreed to join Ethiopia and Egypt for the establishment of a tripartite technical committee that will assess to concerns raised from down stream countries that construction of the massive dam project will reduce water flow.
The ministers responsible for water management in Egypt and Sudan have been invited to Addis Ababa this month for further consultation on ways of jointly fostering future cooperation based on common interest.
According to the Egypt State Information Service the joint meeting “aims to discuss ways of overcoming the crisis between the Nile Basin countries and to restore dialogue and negotiations on points of contention in the Framework the agreement of countries around the Nile”.
The tripartite technical committee comprises of experts drawn from the three countries as well as international experts.
The Addis Ababa meeting is expected to arrange and decide how and when the joint technical committee begins its research over the impacts of Ethiopia Grand Millennium Dam.
Ethiopia says it has the right to execute development projects on the Blue Nile and further argues that construction of the dam will benefit Egypt and Sudan, who under a colonial treaty have control over most of the Nile’s water resources and are able to veto the execution of dam and irrigation projects in upstream countries.
Ethiopian experts say construction of the dam will benefit Sudan and Egypt as it will regulate the flow of water, thus reducing the situation that threatens their dams and controls possible flood risks.
The 4.8 billion dollar project was officially launched on April, 2011 and upon completion Ethiopia has plans to export electricity to Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, South Sudan and other countries in the region. The country has recently begun exporting power to neighboring Djibouti.
South Sudan seeks membership of Nile Basin Initiative
In September the newly independent Republic of South Sudan announced it was seeking full membership of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) two months after it became independent on 9 July.
The acting minister of Information, Madut Biar Yel, said South Sudan had already been enjoying an observer status in the organisation as a semi-autonomous region before independence, under the umbrella of the then national government in Khartoum.
NBI is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to equitable and sustainable management and development of the shared water resources of the Nile Basin. Its member states include Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda with Eritrea also as an observer.
It was established on February 22, 1999 in Dar es Salaam, by ministers responsible for water affairs of each of the nine member states. Its objectives include developing the Nile Basin’s water resources in a sustainable and equitable way to ensure prosperity, security, and peace for all its peoples.