On Thursday, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem defended the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, she said that Addis Ababa does not need anyone’s permission to benefit from its natural resources and denied claims that his country is receiving funding from Qatar to build the Dam.
In a press conference with local media in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Meles stressed that the reports published by some Egyptian newspapers do not affect the construction work in the dam, pointing out that the percentage of these works’ implementation exceeded 60 per cent.
He added that what was published by some Egyptian media that Ethiopia is getting funding from Qatar for the construction of the Renaissance Dam is unfounded and he considered it “unacceptable,” stressing that the dam is built using the Ethiopian people’s funds.
He also pointed out that along with the construction works in the Renaissance Dam project, Ethiopia will continue to cooperate with Sudan and Egypt in the upcoming stages.
The spokesman added: “The 17th meeting on the Renaissance Dam ended in Cairo few days ago without consensus because of Egypt’s intention to include the colonial era agreements of 1929 – 1959 as part of the negotiations.”
Last week, Egypt announced that it has frozen technical negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia following a tripartite meeting in Cairo, after Egyptian officials rejected the two countries’ amendments to the studies of the French Advisory Bureau on the Dam and its filling as well as operation.
Over the past few days, the Renaissance Dam matter drew the attention of all Egyptian newspapers and TV programs, both governmental and private.
Last Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that no one could touch Egypt’s water share, stressing that it is a matter of “life or death,” in his first comment after his country announced the suspension of negotiations.
Egypt fears possible negative impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on its 55.5 billion cubic meters share of water, while Addis Ababa says the dam is not aimed at harming Egypt. The electricity which would be generated by the dam will help eradicate poverty and boost Ethiopia’s developmental Renaissance.
Ethiopia has been criticizing old conventions that it said took place during colonial times, including the 1929 Convention, the 1953 Convention and the 1959 Convention.
The Convention of 1929 was signed by Egypt with the UK on behalf of “Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania,” as the three countries were under British occupation back then. It granted Cairo veto power over any project on the Nile in the upstream countries and Egypt’s natural and historical right in the Nile waters.
Egypt signed the 1953 Convention with the UK on behalf of Uganda regarding the construction of Owen Reservoir at the exit of Lake Victoria. The convention ensured that the construction and operation of the dam would not reduce the amount of water which reaches Egypt, modify its arrival date to Egypt or reduce its level in a way that might cause damage to Egypt’s interest.
As for the 1959 Convention, which Cairo signed with Khartoum, it includes full control of the Nile waters which reach the two countries. It also includes the approval of Egypt’s establishment of the Aswan High Dam, south of the country, and Sudan’s establishment of Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile.
It also concerns Egypt’s possession of its acquired right of 48 billion cubic meters of the Nile waters per year, as well as Sudan’s right of 4 billion cubic meters of the Nile waters per year and the distribution of the water benefit from the 22 billion cubic meters of the High Dam water per year to the two countries, so that Sudan gets 14.5 billion cubic meters and Egypt gets 7.5 billion cubic meters, bringing the annual total share of each country to 55.5 billion cubic meters to Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic meters to Sudan.