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Egypt, Ethiopia to settle dispute over Nile dam

The study aims to assess social, economic and environmental impact of the $4.8 bn project
Officials said on 29 May 2013 the giant dam project risks potential unease in Sudan and Egypt (AFP)

An Ethiopian Water and Energy Ministry official revealed on Monday that his country had resolved its differences with Egypt over a study commissioned to assess the likely impact of a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam now being built by Ethiopia on the Nile River.

Accordingly, a three-party committee on the dam – made up of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan – will soon resume discussions, Bizuneh Tolcha, head of public relations at the ministry, told The Anadolu Agency.

The project, dubbed the "Grand Renaissance Dam," has strained relations between Ethiopia and Egypt for several months.

Water-poor Egypt says the project - that is now 30 percent complete - will negatively affect its share of water from the Nile – its only source of water – while Ethiopia says the project is indispensible to its own national development and the economic welfare of its growing population.

Tolcha said that, now that the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the project study had been resolved, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan would select a consultancy firm to conduct the survey.

The study will aim to assess the social, economic and environmental impact of the $4.8-bn project, a sizeable portion of which has already been completed.

The committee, known as the Tripartite National Committee, consists of four experts from each of the three countries.

It should have convened for the third time in Sudanese capital Khartoum between 4 and 6 December, but the meeting was called off due to differences between Ethiopia and Egypt over the schedule of the studies.

Egypt says the studies should not take more than five or six months, but Ethiopia – which is actively working on the project – says the studies could take as long as 18 months to complete.

Tolcha declined to provide further details about the nature of the agreement reached between Egypt and Ethiopia on the timeframe of the dam studies.

The tripartite committee held a series of meetings in the Ethiopian capital between August and September.

A meeting was also held in Cairo, during which the three states agreed on a shortlist of seven international firms to conduct the studies.  

Egypt and Ethiopia reportedly signed a deal in June regarding the controversial dam as part of an African Union summit in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea.

The agreement saw both sides agree to “abide by the principles of international law”, according to the text published in al-Dostor al-Asly.

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