Egyptian ambassador holds meetings with Canadian parliamentarians on Ethiopian dam issue
CAIRO – (egypttoday)—28 April 2021: Egyptian Ambassador to Canada Ahmed Abou Zeid held meetings with members of the two chambers of the Canadian parliament and representatives of political parties to present Egypt’s vision on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue.
The meetings – creating awareness on the repercussions of Ethiopia’s unilateral measures pertinent to the filling and operation of the dam without a legal binding agreement – also included members of the Egyptian-Canadian Parliamentary Friendship Committee. The ambassador reiterated that Egypt is eager on resuming negotiations as long as Ethiopia has a political willpower to attain a solution.
Abou Zaid said Tuesday that the attendees showed understanding about the cruciality of the Nile River to Egypt, and the importance of abiding by international laws regulating transboundary rivers. That is given that Canada itself sticks to such rules in dealing with transboundary rivers with the United States. Hence, it values cooperation and the negotiation pathway rather than the fait accompli concept.
The ambassador also displayed the meditatory role that can be played by Canada in reaching a legal binding agreement on the dam operation and reservoir filling taking into consideration the lack of the political willpower of Ethiopia to reach a solution over the past decade of negotiations. In the end, the ambassador and the Canadian parliamentarian agreed on continuing consultation and coordination on the issue over the next period.
The dispute among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters].
Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement, while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.
In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered tripartite negotiations among the three countries, in the presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020.
During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.
The first filling was carried out in 2020 with 4.9 billion cubic meters. Currently, Ethiopia intends to do the second filling in July with at least 13 billion cubic meters.