Egypt sticks to proposals on filling Ethiopia’s Nile dam: ministry

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - OCTOBER 04: Egyptian Minister of Water Resources, Mohamed Abdulati attends the talks on Hidase (Nahda) Dam, built on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, between Sudan and Egypt in Khartoum, Sudan on October 04, 2019. (Photo by Mahmoud Hajaj /Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Egyptian Minister of Water Resources, Mohamed Abdulati attends the talks on Hidase (Nahda) Dam, built on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia, between Sudan and Egypt in Khartoum, Sudan. (Photo by Mahmoud Hajaj /Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Egypt sticks to its proposals regarding the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s new upstream dam on their shared Nile River, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said in a statement on Wednesday.

Egypt seeks a minimum annual flow of 40 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile branch to its lands, according to the statement.

“Ethiopia’s proposal seeks to allow an annual passage of 35 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile only during the periods of filling the dam and the times of drought or extended drought,” said the Egyptian statement.

Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia started building its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011, while Egypt, a downstream country, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water.

Egypt’s fellow downstream country Sudan eyes future benefits of the GERD construction despite Egyptian concerns.

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation denied the claims of some “malicious media” that Egypt’s share of the Nile water will decline to 35 billion cubic meters annually.

It stressed that Egypt demands to get 40 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile annually, which is the average flow it gets from the river during times of drought as what happened in from 1979 to 1987.

Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years. While Ethiopia wants to fill it in five to six years, Egypt seeks to prolong the period to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.

Negotiations involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been fruitless for years. They have recently started new rounds of talks with mediation of the United States and the participation of the World Bank.

The GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.