The Tripartite National Committee for the implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) held its second meeting in Cairo Thursday and Friday last week (October 16-17). The meeting followed the decisions reached at the 4th Tripartite Ministerial Meeting held in Khartoum in August and was preceded by the 1st meeting of the Tripartite National Committee held in Addis Ababa in September. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed at the 4th Tripartite Ministerial Meeting to set up a Tripartite National Committee of four members from each country to follow up and conduct the studies recommended by the International Panel of Experts.
At the opening of the TNC meeting, Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister, Alemayehu Tegenu stressed that: “The government of Ethiopia is constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with the objective of poverty eradication and to ensure sustainable economic growth. The GERD offers enormous opportunities and benefits to Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan as well as the Nile Basin States and beyond, through promoting regional economic integration.” He confirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to promote genuine and transparent cooperation with all the Nile basin countries based on “equitable and reasonable utilization, no significant harm and a win-win approach”. Ethiopia, he repeated, does not have any intention to harm any country. The minister underlined the need to ensure that the final outcome of the IPoE recommended studies should be based on reliable and verifiable data and information, in-depth analysis, unbiased findings and recommendations that will be acceptable to all three countries.
The Minister of Water Resources and Electricity of the Republic of Sudan, Mutaz Musa Abdalla Salim, said Sudan appreciated the momentum of the GERD process and he expressed his hope that this would continue to produce the best results for the Eastern Nile countries and ultimately for the cooperation of the whole of the Nile Basin. He urged all the actors in the three countries, whether politicians, the media and the people as a whole, to work hard to create a conducive environment of trust and confidence and allow this cooperation mature and develop. He called for the avoidance of unnecessary rhetoric and dispute. The minister noted that the GERD project was the first real test of investment in the Nile Basin on the ground and he urged the three
countries to make it a success so that it could be replicated in other sub-basins in the region. He asked those present “to try to move and reset minds for wide and inclusive regionalization and avoid narrow dark parochial nationalism; and send a message to the whole world and to our region that we are denying our differences”.
Hossam El Din Moghazy, Egypt Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation expressed his firm conviction about the Tripartite National Committee’s professionalism and called for cooperation in order to expedite the studies on the recommendations. The minister also urged their talks should be based on the common interests of the three countries. He noted that development is something that all countries aspired to, and the Nile Basin states were no exception,
The Tripartite National Committee deliberated on the names of nine international companies suggested as possibilities for conducting the two studies: on a ‘water resources/ hydropower system simulation model’ and a ‘trans-boundary environment and socio-economic impact assessment’. It shortlisted seven of them and the meeting agreed to request for proposals from these. It also chose a legal firm to follow up on the financial procedures and consultancy relating to these studies. They agreed to meet again in Sudan in November to take the process a stage further.
It was following the expressions of concern by Egypt and Sudan on the construction of the GERD, that the Government of Ethiopia called for the participation of the two downstream countries in the creation of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) and invited the review of the GERD study documents. The intention was to build trust and confidence among the three countries. This was an unprecedented initiative and Ethiopia believes it could serve as a lesson to both to strengthen cooperation in the Nile basin as well as for other trans-boundary watercourses. The IPoE, after a year of deliberation, reviewing documents and making field visits, produced a consensus final report on May 31 last year. Subsequently, the three countries held a series of four Tripartite Water Affairs Ministerial meetings and agreed to establish a framework to follow up the implementation of the recommendations of the IPoE. The IPoE in its final report said that the grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project would not result in any significant harm to the two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oct. 24, 2014.