June 6, 2013

Egypt irrigation minister hints at covert response to Ethiopia dam project

Egypt irrigation minister hints at covert response to Ethiopia dam project

Mohamed Bahaa El-Din, President of African Ministersí Council on Water, and Egypt's Minister of Water and Irrigation (Photo: AP)

Mohamed Bahaa El-Din, President of African Ministersí Council on Water, and Egypt’s Minister of Water and Irrigation (Photo: AP)

Ahram Online | Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa El-Din has said that the Egyptian government “will not give up on one drop of water,” in reference to the growing Egypt-Ethiopia crisis over the plans of the latter to build a new dam. “The state has started taking procedures that we will not announce,” he added, according to the state-owned MENA news agency Wednesday.

“We are suffering a yearly deficit of water that reaches LE7 billion,” the minister added. Earlier this week, Bahaa El-Din said that Ethiopia’s planned Renaissance Dam project was sure to negatively affect the electricity-generating capacity of Egypt’s High Dam.

At a meeting between electricity ministry officials and members of Egypt’s Shura Council (the upper house of parliament), Bahaa El-Din asserted that the Ethiopian dam — especially during periods of water scarcity — would lead to “disaster” for Egypt, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website reported.

Last week, in the immediate wake of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia began diverting part of the Blue Nile in preparation for the dam’s construction.

Most of Egypt’s annual quota of Nile water, which — according to a colonial-era water-sharing treaty — stands at 55 billion cubic metres, comes from the Blue Nile. The decades-old water-sharing agreement gives Egypt, along with Sudan, the lion’s share of Nile water.

In 2010, Egypt and Sudan refused to join the Entebbe Agreement signed between Ethiopia and five other Nile Basin countries, which sought to reallocate Nile waters on a more equitable basis.

Signatories argued that the old agreement had been written by colonial powers and unfairly favoured Egypt and Sudan.

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