AFRICANGLOBE – Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Electricity arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a one-day visit to discuss Ethiopia’s plans to erect a dam on the Blue Nile. Egyptians fear that the dam will affect how water from the river is distributed.
Sources present at Osama Abdallah Mohamed al-Hassan’s arrival said that the minister will meet with a number of Egyptian officials to discuss the issue.
In particular, they will talk about Ethiopia’s announcement on Tuesday that it is diverting the course of the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile River, in order to facilitate construction of the Millennium Dam. Plans for the dam were first announced in 2011.
The announcement that the river would presently be diverted rattled officials in Egypt and Sudan, who expected the process to take place in September. It came hours after President Mohamed Morsy’s participation in the 21st summit of the African Union in Ethiopia.
But Mohamed Idris, Cairo’s ambassador in Addis Ababa, assured that Ethiopia is fully conscious of Egypt’s water-related interests and would not infringe upon them. The ambassador clarified on Wednesday that the diversion of the Blue Nile, though shocking news to Egyptians, did not suggest that water would be cut off from Egypt. He also explained that the expert committee studying the impact of the dam knew of the diversion plans ahead of time.
In 2010, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania signed a new agreement in Entebbe, Uganda, which redistributed Nile water among the countries. Egypt, along with Sudan and Congo, boycotted the deal and said it was non-binding.
As agreed to in a bilateral deal in 1959, Egypt currently receives 55 billion square meters of water annually while Sudan receives 18 billion square meters.