Egypt-Sudan Ties Deteriorate Over Nile

September 19, 2013 in Egypt-Sudan Ties Deteriorate Over Nile

By: Ayah Aman –
An Egyptian farmer holds a handful of soil to show the dryness of the land due to drought in a farm formerly irrigated by the river Nile, in Al-Dakahlya, June 4, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

 

 

CAIRO, Egypt — Relations between Cairo and Khartoum are headed down a dark road following the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who had the backing of his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir. This comes at a time when the Egyptian regime is striving to safeguard its security, commercial and water rights interests in Sudan.

About This Article

Summary :

Sudan is shifting its position closer to the other upstream Nile states as ties with Egypt’s new military leaders grow weaker.

Original Title:
Egypt-Sudan Ties Deteriorate Post-Morsi
Author: Ayah Aman
Posted on: September 18 2013
Translated by: Kamal Fayad

Categories : Originals  Egypt   Sudan   Security

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry source with knowledge about the Sudanese dossier explained to Al-Monitor the challenges in the relationship. “We are facing a crisis in trying to convince the Sudanese side of the sincerity of our stance, following Morsi’s overthrow. We are keen on bolstering relations with the Sudanese government because doing so safeguards the water, food, and national security of Egypt,” he said.

The source, who requested anonymity, said, “The Egyptian Ministry of Defense had put forth a plan to secure the Egyptian-Sudanese border, through the establishment of a joint border force between the two countries. In fact, some Egyptian security officials were dispatched to negotiate the details of the plan, but the Sudanese have yet to approve it.”

Bashir’s visit to Cairo in July was canceled, without any explanation given by the Egyptian presidency, despite preparations. But Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi headed to Khartoum on Aug. 18 on his first trip abroad, following the formation of the new Egyptian government. During his visit, Fahmi stressed Cairo’s keenness to safeguard its national security, but he did not invite Bashir to visit Egypt.

Bashir, who is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March 2009 on charges of committing crimes against humanity in Darfur, tried to maintain close relations with the Egyptian revolution and the Islamist regime there, as evidenced by his four visits to Cairo in the last two years. These visits were described by the prominent Sudanese opposition figure, Hassan al-Turabi, as attempts to hide behind the revolution and the Islamist regime of Egypt, as well as to garner support for the legitimacy of his rule in Sudan.

“Four issues stand behind the undeclared crisis currently brewing between Cairo and Khartoum. These are: the conflict over the Hala’ib and Shalateen triangle; the problem of coordination and agreement about the Nile water dossier and the Ethiopian Renaissance dam; opening the border and giving the Sudanese freedom of movement, ownership in and entry into Egypt without the need for visas, as Sudan has done; in addition to control over border crossings, and opening the road between the two countries,” an Egyptian security source told Al-Monitor, also on the condition of anonymity.

The security source added that Cairo’s refusal to open its border to the Sudanese came as a result of security considerations. The most important among the latter are the unstable security situation in Egypt and Sudan and the possibility that unsavory elements might sneak across the border from Sudan, particularly in light of Sudanese security forces’ inability to secure most areas that suffer from armed conflicts and the proliferation of weapons. “The Sudanese side has conveyed to us its inability to guarantee the protection and security of the road between the two countries, if it were to be opened,” the source added.

In this regard, the Egyptian and Sudanese governments had agreed to open the road that connects the two countries in September 2012. But implementation of the decision was postponed more than once for procedural and security reasons and it has yet to be inaugurated.

A diplomatic source connected with the ongoing negotiations with Sudan told Al-Monitor, “President Bashir always uses the Nile and the Hala’ib and Shalateen triangle issues to make demands and receive support from Cairo. This vexes Egyptian officials during negotiation sessions, and disagreements have disrupted the work of many joint committees between the two countries in matters of agriculture, commerce, and industry. It has also put on hold Egyptian projects in Sudan, most important of which is Egypt taking possession of the 1 million acres of land that Bashir had promised Egypt following the January revolution.”

“Egypt strives to make the Hala’ib and Shalateen area the locus of economic and commercial symbiosis between Cairo and Khartoum. We absolutely do not want it to be a point of contention or conflict,” Egypt’s Ambassador to Sudan, Abdel Ghaffar al-Deeb, told Al-Monitor.

Sudan’s actions in the Nile dossier also raise concerns in Cairo, which always strives to formulate a common position with Sudan — in its capacity as the other Nile basin downstream country — in opposition to the bloc formed by upstream countries. Khartoum has resumed its participation in the Nile Basin Initiative, despite its common stance with Egypt to freeze such activities, following the ratification of the Entebbe Convention by six of the Nile headwater states. Furthermore, the Khartoum government seems to be strongly leaning towards endorsing the building of the Ethiopian Renaissance dam, despite concerns by Cairo about the dam’s impact on its water security, in addition to Bashir’s announcement that Sudan intended to also build new dams.

“Meetings of the Egyptian-Sudanese Joint Technical Commission for Nile Waters have been on hold for the past year as a result of repeated requests for postponement by the Sudanese side. This is disrupting the attainment of an agreement for joint technical action in matters relating to Nile waters,” an official at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation told Al-Monitor.

The same source added that any discrepancies in coordinating with Sudan about the Nile basin crisis would harm the international legitimacy of Egypt’s stance. It would also force Cairo to confront, by itself, the upstream countries, if it were to insist on the implementation of historical agreements that govern the management of Nile waters.

Despite the tensions that are affecting coordination between Egypt and Sudan on the Nile Basin issue, the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohammed Abdel Matlab, told Al-Monitor, “There are a number of ties that emphasize the strength of relations between Egypt and Sudan when it comes to the issue of the Nile waters. There is a permanent Egyptian mission in Khartoum to monitor the water level of the Nile in Sudan, and they are in constant contact with the Sudanese Irrigation Ministry to discuss water allocation and the division of annual quotas for Nile water.” Matlab commented on the current dispute, saying, “What is happening is a difference in opinion, but our final position is unified, and we are always trying to reconcile views.”

The new Egyptian administration is trying to take diplomatic steps aimed at containing the crisis with Sudan, to safeguard its interests without getting involved in a public debate or conflict with its neighbor. But these attempts have not come to fruition, in light of the political instability that prevails in Egypt, and the continued conflict that wracks Sudan.

Ayah Aman is an Egyptian journalist for Al-Shorouk specializing in Africa and the Nile Basin, Turkey and Iran, and internal Egyptian social issues. On Twitter: @ayahaman

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/sudan-egypt-nile-basin.html#ixzz2fLjVfWPY

Nile Water Dispute Stymies Egypt Reset with African Union

September 11, 2013 in Nile Water Dispute Stymies, Water Crisis

Security guards overlook construction of Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, June 28, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

CAIRO — Egypt is still facing multiple hurdles in managing its diplomatic relations and national security interests with other African nations, particularly those of the Nile basin. This is despite the new Egyptian political administration showing capacity to bolster relations with countries of the African continent. But there remains a pent-up crisis engendered by the dispute over the management of the Nile water dossier.

About This Article

Summary :

Egypt’s relations with Africa remain cool despite a diplomatic campaign by Cairo to reboot ties.

Original Title:
African Union No Closer to Lifting Egypt Suspension
Author: Ayah Aman
Posted on: September 10 2013
Translated by: Kamal Fayad

Categories : Originals  Egypt  Security

Egyptian-African relations had witnessed some tensions resulting from the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, with the African Union suspending Egypt’s membership pending the restoration of constitutional rule and democracy to the country. Furthermore, tripartite negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia pertaining to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were put on hold, as were discussions relating to the problem caused by the Entebbe Agreement.

Egyptian diplomatic circles tried to deal with the crisis by dispatching on July 21 its first official delegation led by Ambassador Mona Omar, the former assistant minister of foreign affairs for African affairs, and 27 other envoys to African Union countries. This delegation represented an attempt to try and convince these countries to change their position favoring the suspension of Egypt’s membership in the union. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi made his first trip abroad on Aug. 19 to Khartoum and Juba carrying a message expressing Cairo’s desire to bolster relations.

Omar, Egypt’s presidential envoy to a number of African nations, told Al-Monitor that the African Union had not yet taken any concrete measures to lift its decision to suspend Egypt’s membership. She explained that the second visit by the African Union’s Panel of the Wise did not bode well for Egypt, with the former only succeeding in issuing some general recommendations in rejection of violence and towards the attainment of internal peace.

The Panel of the Wise, led by Alpha Oumar Konaré, had concluded its second visit to Cairo on Wednesday, Sept. 4, during which it affirmed Egypt’s ability to solve its problems, and that the matter of suspending the country’s membership in the African Union was not aimed at excluding it from the African arena. It did not, however, identify specific measures that would result in discussions aimed at reinstating Egypt’s membership in the union.

“The Panel of the Wise was not tasked with taking decisions about reinstating Egypt’s membership, and only made recommendations based on the results of its visit, upon which the African Union’s General Assembly would vote,” Omar said. She added that “it was not in Egypt’s interest for a vote to be taken at the present time, and it was necessary for the new Egyptian leadership to implement part of the road map and agree on a new constitution, in order to prove Egypt’s commitment to democratic norms.”

The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Badr Abdel-Ati, told Al-Monitor that Egypt would continue its diplomatic efforts aimed at proving its seriousness in restoring Egyptian-African relations.

He pointed out,  “Egyptian presidential envoys have visited 35 countries in order to explain the current state of affairs in Egypt.”

Despite Egypt’s efforts to bolster its relations with other African countries, the issue of water allocations remained at a standstill during discussions pertaining to the Nile basin dossier, which continued to cause tensions between downstream states Egypt and Sudan and their counterpart upstream countries. These tensions increased as Ethiopia began building its Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile, which constitutes a direct threat to Egypt’s water interests in the river Nile.

For the third consecutive time, Ethiopia and Sudan asked for the postponement of the tripartite meeting scheduled to take place between water resource ministers of eastern Nile countries. This led to the rescheduling of discussions pertaining to the final report issued by International Panel of Experts at the end of its last meeting in June. The report discussed the ramifications of the Renaissance Dam on the water security of Egypt and Sudan.

Sharif al-Mohammadi, an Egyptian expert with the international panel, told Al-Monitor that more negative consequences would ensue as a result of postponing discussing the final report on the effects of the Renaissance Dam, at a time when the Ethiopian government was moving ahead to finalize the initial phases in preparation for beginning dam construction.

“While no new meeting date was set for consultations between the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian ministers of water resources, there was a general agreement on the need to continue negotiations about the dam, and the need to intensify political efforts meant to reach a solution that satisfied all parties,” Mohammadi said. He explained that the new government had adopted the same methods and negotiating stances that the old regime had used.

Ethiopia has already finished construction on 25% of the Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul region, about 40 kilometers [25 miles] from the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. The dam is designed to generate 5,500 megawatts of electricity at a cost estimated to reach $4.5 billion. Upon its completion in 2017, it will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa, and the world’s 10th-largest electricity-producing dam.

The Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdul Muttalib, said in an interview with Al-Monitor that the council of ministers was in the process of laying down a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Nile dossier. “It had also adopted a plan to implement the recommendations contained in the International Panel of Experts’ report, which evaluated the effects resulting from the building of the dam, and which will be implemented once Khartoum overcomes the flood crisis that it currently has to contend with,” he added.

Egypt is yet to resolve the dispute arising from the Framework Convention for the Nile Basin, known in the media as the Entebbe Agreement, which was ratified by Ethiopia and Uganda, while the newly formed government of South Sudan expressed desire to join the agreement.

Despite Juba announcing its desire to join the Entebbe Agreement, Egypt has sought South Sudan’s assistance in mediating with other states over the dispute. “We asked President Salva Kiir Mayardit, during the Egyptian foreign minister’s visit to Juba on Aug. 20, that South Sudan, in its capacity as current president of the Nile Basin Imitative, play a mediating role to revive negotiations pertaining to the Entebbe Agreement,” Ayman el-Gammal, Egyptian ambassador to South Sudan, told Al-Monitor.

“South Sudan’s accession to the agreement, upon which Egypt has reservations, will be a hurdle towards finding a framework for compromise,” Gammal added. He clarified that South Sudan’s reply was that “its accession to the agreement would not become official for another three months, when parliament approves the move,” adding that “the South Sudanese government had expressed a measure of contentment towards the recent developments that took place in Egypt.”

Despite Cairo’s diplomatic efforts to reboot ties with Africa, clear obstacles remain. Continued political internal instability hampers Egypt’s efforts to secure its interests in the Nile Basin, and establish warm relations with the countries involved.

Ayah Aman is an Egyptian journalist for Al-Shorouk specializing in Africa and the Nile Basin, Turkey and Iran, and internal Egyptian social issues. On Twitter: @ayahaman

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Ethiopia’s Nile dam project leaves Egypt with headache

September 10, 2013 in Ethiopia's Nile dam

 

By Syed  Hussain
Egypt’s new stimulus package highlights a major issue facing the country: rising need for water and power infrastructure in the country.
The USD 3.2 billion program included sorely-needed investments in 131 potable water and sewage treatment plants, as the arid country looks to address its water scarcity issue on top of all the other economic trouble it faces.
While Egypt’s electricity infrastructure is better than most other African nations, the country’s power needs are expected to rise 6% till the end of the decade due to demographic pressures. In addition, agriculture produce demands a steady flow of water to ensure that the country’s large food import bill is reined in.

 

Ethiopia's Nile dam project leaves Egypt with headache
But the rising demand for food and water may not be met due to a whole host of factors, including lack of resources and developments along the river Nile that could have dire consequences for the country.
“Egypt remains politically and economicallyunsettled andthis is likely to affect the water sector in various ways – on the one hand funds are limited, however on the other there is a great deal of public pressure on the government to ensure the provision of basic affordable amenities like drinking water,” said BMI in its recent report on the country’s water needs.
“Further pressures stem from the continuinginternational debateover Ethiopia’s dam project which would threaten Egypt’s Nile resources.BMI is confident that the short-term future of the water market remains secure and lucrative – yet the long-term future of the nation remains precarious, and increasingly dependent on fickle foreign investment and resources.”


THE GREAT ETHIOPIAN PROJECT
More than 90% of Egypt’s energy consumption is being met by oil and natural gas – which makes a huge demand on its import bill.
In terms of electricity generation, natural gas represents over 80% of the total mix, the remainder being met mostly by hydroelectricity.
“Electricity in Egypt is generated mainly from thermal and hydropower stations,” according to the African Development Bank. “However, the percentage of hydropower energy generated is gradually reducing due to the fact that all major hydropower sites have already been developed and new generation plants being built are mainly gas fired.”
Indeed, there seems little scope for hydroelectricity expansion,especially in light of new developments along the river Nile.
While Egypt has been distracted with internal political disputes, other countries have moved ahead in taking advantage of the Nile basin.
Ethiopia is building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a USD 4.3 billion 6,000 megawatt hydropower plant set for completion by 2017-2018.
Located in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 kilometers from the border with Sudan, the project is the centerpiece of a string of dams that could transform Ethiopia into a major energy exporter.
But the controversial project threatens an agreement brokered by Great Britain in 1929,which granted Egypt veto power over projects that could change the flow of the river Nile.
In addition, Sudan and Egypt had signed an agreement enacting water usage quotas for the Nile’s water in 1959. Under the agreement, Egypt has a quota of 55.5 billion cubic meters per year and Sudan has a quota of 18.5 billion cubic meters per year.

But the Entebbe treaty signed by Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan, on May 19, 2010 has the potential to make the previous deal redundant.
The treaty gives each of its signatories a fair and reasonable access to the water resources to use for their economic benefit, which would eliminate Egypt’s access to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water per year.
Ethiopia had unveiled the GERD project a month after Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular revolt in 2011, leading many analysts to think the timing was not coincidental and was meant to push the project ahead just as Egypt was preoccupied with other pressing matters.
The project is expected to be Africa’s largest hydroelectricity dam,but has already raised huge concerns among Egyptian and Sudanese authorities, who have objected to the project in the strongest possible terms.


SPECULATIONS OF MILITARY ACTION
The deposed president Mohammed Morsi has been on record saying that Egyptians will “defend each drop of Nile water with our blood”.
But given that the dam will not be completed until around 2018, Egypt is not under pressure to make an immediate decision over whether to launch a strike, said Ben Peyton, head of Africa Practice at Maplecroft, a global risk analytics, research and strategic forecasting company.
“Yet military action is certainly an option that many of the key figures within Egypt’s security apparatus would like to seriously consider, not least because a successful strike would help rally nationalist support for the military-dominated government.”
However, it is unclear if Egypt has the political appetite or the international support to pursue this developmentin the midst of a severe domestic economic and political meltdown.
“Indeed, the security forces are already stretched as a result of the domestic situation and the regime is likely to be reluctant to completely burn its bridges with Washington by attacking a key US regional ally,” Peyton said.
While Egypt and Ethiopia had been looking for constructive dialogue to resolve their dispute during Morsi’s tenure, it is unclear how the new interim governments and subsequent government view the issue.
Morsi and Ethiopia’s prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn had even discussed the idea of Egypt funding a transmission line from the dam, with Ethiopia selling 2,000 megawatts of power to Egypt by 2020, according to Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Hailemariam.
However, Ethiopia’sdecision to divert the Nile immediately after a meeting between the two officials has taken Egypt by surprise.
“Perhaps most alarming to Egypt was not the announcement itself, but rather how quickly Ethiopia announced the diversion after the meeting,” said risk consultancy Stratfor Inc. in a note.
THE CONGO RIVER PROJECT

The construction of Ethiopia’s controversial Renaissance Dam project has meant that another project conceived more than a century ago will remain on the backburner.
The project was suggested by an Egyptian irrigation engineer as far back as 1902, but was taken up by former president Anwer Sadat in the 1970s as he believed dam-building was vital to moving the economy towards industrialization and managing the water flow from the Nile, which vacillated from flooding of agriculture lands to crippling droughts.
The 4,500-kilometer Congo River has the potential to supply Egypt with over 100 billion cubic meters of water, out of the trillion cubic meters that flow into the ocean yearly, according to Ismail Abdul Jalil, former president of the Desert Research Center.
According to Egypt’s minister of agriculture, Ayman AbouHadid, researchers proposed the project to prime minister Issam Sharaf’s interim government to prevent Egypt from facing a water shortage as a result of the Renaissance Dam.
The former prime minister saw in it an opportunity to turn more than 60% of Egypt to an agricultural land, but subsequent political events prevented any further discussion.
“This project is a major technical challenge as it requires rerouting the river against its natural flow.It also requires the approval of South Sudan, which is a signatory of the Entebbe Treaty, making any discussion of the project very difficult,” AbouHadid said.
“This should not discount the idea that constructing the dam is now a viable possibility.”
The project could save Egypt from a long-term drought and while interest in the project has been renewed after Ethiopia’s Renaissance project, officials believe the development will remain mothballed for some time.
NOT ON THE TABLE YET
Egypt’s ministry of water resources and irrigation is not currently considering the Congo River project, to replace the water shortage that might occur as a result of the construction of the Renaissance Dam, an official source told Zawya.
“It is difficult for the current transition government that has limited power, to make the final decision on such a large, long-term project,” said Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation, in a statement to Zawya.
“Furthermore, the speed of the river flow presents a major technical challenge, especially the building of the water pumping stations; it is not a decision to be rushed.”
It would also be considered hostile to make such an announcement, while negotiations with Ethiopia around the Renaissance Dam are still under way.
“The government is still committed to resolving the issue of the Renaissance Dam, and it would be inappropriate to talk about pressure means in the midst of diplomatic efforts,” he said.
“The situation is very delicate, especially now that Egypt’s membership in the African Union was suspended after Morsi was removed from power. Hence, we are very careful on how to approach this issue and we are very serious in our reassurance messages to the African Union.”
In addition to the negotiations, the government will be meeting with the technical committee overseeing the Renaissance Dam project to discuss its details. “The project is no doubt ambitious, however, there is currently no feasibility study to determine its cost which is an additional issue influencing the decision,” he added.
Nasr EldinAllam, former minister of water resources believes the Congo River project is impossible to implement.
“In addition to the technical and financial difficulties, we will be facing major political challenges, he said. “Rerouting the river stream will require an approval from all the affected countries and there is currently no agreement if the Congo River belongs to Congo or is an international river.”
He also emphasized the importance of acquiring approval from South Sudan which is difficult, especially as the project could flood its land. Furthermore, the agreement South Sudan signed with Israel last year involves plans to cooperate on water and irrigation projects would make it reluctant to approve the project.
HUGE IMPACT ON FOOD SUPPLIES
With the Congo River project on the backburner, Egypt will be severely impacted by the Renaissance Dam.
Analysts say there will be a short-term drop in water flowing into Egypt while the reservoir is being filled – a process that could take several years.
Depending on the extent of the shortfall, agricultural productivity in areas that rely on the Nile for irrigation could well be affected, which could result in higher spending on imported food and other agricultural commodities and could potentially drive up rural unemployment, according to Maplecroft.

Egypt clearly believes the Renaissance Dam would negatively impact the country’s agriculture sector, lead to severe droughts and force the country to raise food imports, which would weaken the country’s fiscal position and keep it dependent on volatile food prices.
Egypt is particularly sensitive to rising food costs. After all, its 2011 revolution was triggered partly because of rising food costs – among other grievances – which toppled Hosni Mubarak’s government and ushered in a new era of volatility in the country.
Egypt is also the world’s largest importer of wheat, half of which it distributes to its 84 million people in the form of heavily subsidized loaves of bread, which sell for less than 1 US cent.
Subsidies for food and fuel have risen by by 73% and 63% respectively, since the outbreak of the revolution, and remain key drivers of the surge in government expenditure, according to estimates by the National Bank of Kuwait Capital.
The United Nations Food Agency Organization (FAO) notes that the country’s cereal imports in 2013-14 comprise coarse grains and wheat, and are forecast to increase by 21% and 6%, respectively, compared to the 2012-13 levels.
The FAO says that while the harvest is progressing well, farmers have expressed doubts that the harvest will be as large as forecasted by the Egyptian Government.
The burden on Egyptian authorities is already visible, as annual food and beverage inflation rate in May 2013 reached about 9% compared to 7.9% in January 2013, as a depreciating exchange rate and bottlenecks in fuel distribution added to the woes.
“Although the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals may have improved by 2018, the high current account deficit and low currency reserves will only be put under greater strain if Egypt has to increase imports of agricultural products,” Maplecroft’s Peyton said.
In the longer term, the downstream flow will be reduced as a result of evaporation from the reservoir, although the effects – while disputed – are likely to be relatively modest. Yet even a small reduction in flow will effectively end any possibility of Egypt breaking its dependence on imported wheat.
EGYPT’S LIFEBLOOD
Egypt’s reliance on the Nile cannot be overestimated. Apart from being a symbol of the ancient country’s identity, the Nile exclusively supports Egypt’s production of wheat, fruits and vegetables.
The Nile accounts for 97% of Egypt’s water source, especially as most of thepopulation lives along the banks of the river.
However, it is Ethiopia that is the source of 86% of the water that flows into the Nile – one of the world’s most famous rivers that run 4,160 miles and traverse through eleven countries, before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.
And that creates a water security issue for Egypt at the most inconvenient time.
An international committee consisting of 10 experts, including two from Egypt, issued a report on the Renaissance Dam recently and concluded that there are no environmental impact assessment on the two downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
But the Egyptian government has rejected the study.
The Group of Nile Basin (GNB) -a group of professors from the Department of Irrigation and Hydraulics, Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University recently outlined the grim impact of the Renaissance Dam on Egypt’s resources in its own report.
The study noted that the Ethiopian dam will mean Egypt will have “no control”to the country’s share of the Nile.
“As such, this plan shall subsequently include total control of the share of Egypt’s share of the water in the Nile and the possible redundancy or at least dwarfing the role of the High Dam in securing the future supply of water to Egypt.”
The project will also impact electricity output from the High Dam and the Aswan Dam during the filling period of the lake and its operation.
“This negative impact shall escalate during the drought period wherein the water supplies to both Egypt and Sudan shall conflict with the water needed to produce the electricity from the GERD.”
The group notes that a decline in Egypt’s share of the water will “result in abandoning huge areas of agricultural lands and scattering millions of families.”
The project would also raise pollution in the water stream and affect quality of drinking water, while river transportation, Nile tourism and fish farms will be under threat.
RISING NEED FOR WATER
“Collapse of GERD will result in catastrophic effects in both Sudan and Egypt. This includes failures of dams, drowning of major towns and villages and exposing millions to the dangers of death and relocation.”
The group recommends stopping construction of the project until all scientific studies are complete, and Egypt should insist on reducing the scale of the project and secure guarantees from Ethiopia that will not use the water for agriculture purposes.
Egypt can see the problem coming from a long distance. By 2050, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic meters of water to quench the thirst of its population and economy.
But at the moment,there are few diplomatic tools at the country’s disposal.
“Egypt is isolated amongst the 11 countries that fall within the Nile basin. With the partial exception of Sudan, upstream states are united in support of Ethiopia’s position,” said Maplecroft’s Peyton.
“This is due in part to resentment at Egypt and Sudan using a colonial-era treaty as justification for claiming exclusive rights over the Nile, and in part because they hope that they will be able to follow Ethiopia’s example in developing hydropower and irrigation projects. Moreover, upstream states are also attracted to the potential of accessing the cheap energy generated by the dam.”
Egypt’s economic problems has also meant that it is unable to offer generous aid packages and secure arm deals to ensure good relations with the smaller upstream states, as it had done in the past.
“The fact that political instability appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future suggests that foreign-policy institutions are poorly-placed to regain the ability to influence regional affairs.”
In addition, the 1959 water-sharing agreement for the Nile River has become problematic and could probably benefit from some revisions.
“Egypt will be in tough position if the dam restricts its water supply, but it is unlikely that Cairo will be able to influence Addis Ababa one way or the other,” Stratfor concluded.
Additional reporting by Iman Abdul Hadid.

 

 

© Zawya 2013