Increasing sluices on GERD of no importance, Egypt's water share is priority: Water expert

(MENAFN- Daily News Egypt) In response to Ethiopia's announcement that it will not add more sluices to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam El-Moghazy said Egypt will prepare a new technical study on the sluices.

Egypt had previously requested to increase the sluices from two to four to ensure that the downstream flow of water is not interrupted or decreased.

El-Moghazy said the study is a result of Ethiopia's provided data and information during the last technical meeting in Addis Ababa between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

El-Moghazy said, in press statements Saturday, that based on this information and the new technical study, Egypt will determine its final decision over the number of sluices required to ensure the flow of the Nile water downstream to Egypt and Sudan. The results will be presented in a report to be submitted in the upcoming tripartite meeting.

Professor of Water Resources at the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University, Nader Nour El-Din, told Daily News Egypt there is no technical study over the sluices; rather it was simply a "weak proposal", rather than a study.

He further criticised the irrigation ministry's handling of the issue, saying it ceded a major victory to Ethiopia by allowing it to build using its own design of the dam, without guaranteeing Egypt's water share.

"Ethiopia succeeded in distracting the Irrigation Ministry with the technical talks, the design of the dam, and increasing the sluices, while neglecting the important factor, which is guaranteeing Egypt's share of water," Nour El-Din said.

According to Nour El-Din, increasing or decreasing the number of dam sluices is of no importance, because what is important is Ethiopia's ability to generate electricity through its 16 sluices. Ethiopia relies on its sluices to export electricity, which is the fundamental purpose of the dam project.

The real quandary, according to Nour El-Din, is that the sluices can be stopped if Addis Ababa is unable to export electricity, which would in turn majorly affect water flow. This is what is behind the technical experts' demands for two new sluices without turbines, which would ensure that Egypt's water share will not be affected negatively in the case of Ethiopia's inability to export electricity.

Nour El-Din confirmed that the addition of two or four sluices to facilitate water flow to Egypt and Sudan will not resolve the situation if Ethiopia cannot export electricity.

He asserted that the Egyptian ministry should make radical shifts in its talks, from negotiating about sluices and technical studies to guaranteeing Egypt's Nile water share of about 55.5bn cubic metres annually.

"After a year and a half of negotiations and now that the dam is 70 metres high and almost completed, [El-Moghazy] suddenly discovered the design negatively affects Egypt," he said.

The Egyptian ministry should obligate Ethiopia to sign the agreement it refused to sign previously, ensuring that the dam will not negatively affect Egypt. Egypt should also force Ethiopia to offer guarantees on Egypt' water share, to ensure that it will not face drought during the building of the dam or encounter any technical problems.

Moreover, African programme director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Professor, Amany Al-Taweel said the Egyptian irrigation ministry's approach was incorrect from the beginning. She told Daily News Egypt that the ministry's method of handling the issue was erroneous and the talks during meetings were not productive.

"The Egyptian ministry neglected the issue since the 25 January Revolution in 2011," Al-Taweel said, noting that Egypt should have contributed to building the dam since 2011, not just watching.

She said Egypt should have resorted to an international committee since 2011 when Ethiopia announced the idea for the dam.

Al-Taweel said GERD's safety factor is still unknown, and as such could threaten human security in both Egypt and Sudan. "A human crisis is about to happen in Egypt," she said.

Daily News Egypt

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