The construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia has commenced months after stalling, signalling hope that the dam will be completed.
Egypt has long protested that the dam is harmful to the country and that the construction of the dam has no economic or technical justification.
Although the countries involved-Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt hired experts to analyze the effects of the dam, the countries were not able to agree on how the analysis should be carried out.
But speaking to the media, Egyptian Minister for Irrigation Hossam Moghazi said the project had stalled due to misunderstanding between the Egyptian and Ethiopian officials.
“There is an extreme delay in achieving the road map we agreed in August 2014, compared to the construction rates of the Grand Renaissance Dam,” said Moghazi at the opening session of the ninth tripartite committee meeting in Cairo.
It is this misunderstanding that caused the withdrawal of consultancy firm Deltares from the assessment of the dam, saying that the conditions imposed by the tripartite national committee — which includes representatives from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as the French consultancy firm BRL — did not provide sufficient guarantees to Deltares that an independent high-quality study could be carried out.
The future of negotiations has remained unclear after several postponed meetings in October.
According to the irrigation ministry, Egypt is suffering from a water deficit of 20 billion cubic metres, which it compensates for through water recycling, an inadvisable process in the long term.
The Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, now under construction on the Blue Nile River and scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant with a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic metres of water.
The plan to construct the Renaissance dam in Ethiopia was first mooted in 2011, when the country announced that it was intending to construct the largest dam in the world on the Nile.
The dam’s construction contract was given to Italy’s Salini, which is also building the controversial Gibe II Dam on Ethiopia’s Omo River.
The project’s launch came in the midst of the Egyptian revolution, which some observers believe was intended to take advantage of the more powerful nation’s confused political state at a time when the issue of who controls the Nile is heating up.
For now the project continues but it remains to be seen whether it will be constructed to completion, considering the glitches that it has faced.