Egyptian ambassador: Ethiopia dam ‘a reality’ to cope with

Egypt’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idrees described Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam as a "reality" that Egypt must cope with and added that his country's goal in its ongoing dialogue with Ethiopia is not to shut down the project, but to find ways for both countries to benefit from it.

In statements to an Egyptian media delegation in Addis Ababa on Monday, Idrees said that the tripartite technical committee, made up of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, will conclude its meetings in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and submit a report on the impact construction of the Renaissance Dam will have. He added that the committee members visited the dam on Monday.

Potential repercussions from the dam cannot be properly assessed before the committee has to submit its report, he said, while clarifying that the committee's findings and any recommendations it makes will not be binding.

Asked if Egypt had proposed to Ethiopia alternatives for power generation that could replace the dam, Idrees said that this might be discussed once the committee submits its report.  Establishing power stations instead of the dam, however, would not produce sufficient energy, he added.

The dam is a national project for Ethiopians, one as significant as Egypt's High Dam, Idrees said. He added that the Ethiopian prime minister, on the sidelines of the African Union summit, had reassured President Mohamed Morsy that Ethiopia did not seek to infringe on Egypt's rights, and expressed to him the hope that the project would benefit Egypt and Sudan as well.

They also agreed that the project would be discussed further at the presidential and technical levels.

Previous discussions on this issue were constrained by tense relations between the two countries, which originated from the assassination attempt on former President Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995. After the 25 January revolution, relations thawed and the two countries exchanged official and cultural visits, Idrees said.

“It was wrong to confine relations with Africa to water issues and relations with Ethiopia to the issue of the dam…these relations have changed and Egypt now seeks greater interaction with Africa, but we still need coordination and a plan in order for these initiatives to be sustainable rather than cursory.”

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


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