By Tesfa-Alem Tekle (sudantibune)
October 25, 2011(KHARTOUM) – Sudan has agreed to set up tripartite technical committee to look into concerns over Ethiopia’s Millennium dam project on the Blue Nile water could negatively affect the water share of downstream countries like itself and Egypt.
The committee will consult international and local experts drawn from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. It will assess the potential impact of the massive dam and will also set in place mechanisms to foster cooperation between the three countries over the water resources and the exchange of technical expertise.
Khartoum’s decision comes after an Ethiopian delegation led by minister of water and energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, met Sudan’s president Omar Al Bashir and other officials in on Tuesday.
The aim of the visit, according to the pro-government Sudan Vision newspaper, is to start joint cooperation between the two neighbors in the area of hydroelectricity.
Ethiopia and Egypt in September agreed to convene the tripartite committee however both had been waiting for Sudan to agree to its establishment.
Addis Ababa says it has the right to execute development projects at on the Blue Nile and further argues that construction of the dam – also known as the ’Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam’ – will benefit downstream countries as it will regulate the flow of water, thus reducing the situation that threatens their dams and controls possible flood risks.
According to Ethiopian officials, Sudan and Egypt will benefit from the electricity the dam generates. The horn of Africa’s country has recently begun exporting power to neighboring Djibouti and has plans to further export electricity to Sudan, Egypt, Kenya and other countries in the region.
Alemayehu Tegenu reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment for transparency to guarantee Sudan and Egypt that returns from the project are not only to the horn nation.
“We are looking forward to launching regional cooperation serving interests of the three countries,” he said. The Ethiopian minister appreciated the grant of agricultural machines presented by President Al Bashir to Ethiopia.
President Bashir stressed the importance of coordination between the two countries so as to boost development. The Sudanese president reaffirmed his country’s readiness to cooperate with Ethiopia on all issues.
Under a colonial era agreement, Egypt was granted the lion’s share of the Nile’s water. However a group of riparian countries, led by Ethiopia are using the 1999 Nile Basin Initiative to claim more water rights.