Vendor on the streets of Cairo, Egypt with an enlarged US dollar advertisement in the background. Egypt is facing a renewed economic crisis due to its alliance with imperialism., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Ethiopian Nile move drives Egypt's EGX30 downward
Ahram Online, Wednesday 29 May 2013
EGX30 falls 1.2 percent Wednesday following Ethiopia's contentious decision to divert course of Blue Nile, raising concerns about move's impact on Egyptian water security
Egypt stocks tumbled on Wednesday in the wake of Ethiopia's recent move to begin construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River's two main tributaries, raising fears regarding the move's potential impact on Egypt.
The main EGX30 index declined by 1.2 percent to reach 5,338 points in a session that saw total daily turnover of some LE339.9 million.
Egypt's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Ethiopian Ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia's decision to divert the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its project to build a series of new dams for electricity production.
Egypt's broader-based EGX70 index, meanwhile, fell by 0.8 percent for the day.
Commercial International Bank was the only blue-chip share to register gains – 0.03 percent – with foreign investors picking up some LE3.2 million worth of company stock.
Market bellwethers Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) and Orascom Telecom (OT), meanwhile, fell by 2.1 and 0.8 percent.
Property shares Talaat Mostafa Group, Palm Hills and SODIC all slumped on Wednesday as well, falling by 1, 2.6 and 2.4 percent respectively.
Domestic investors ended the trade session as net sellers, offloading some LE8.5 million worth of shares.
Egypt summons Ethiopian ambassador over Blue Nile move
Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 May 2013
Foreign ministry summons Ethiopian ambassador to express Egypt's displeasure with Addis Ababa's recent move to divert course of Blue Nile within context of dam construction project
Egypt's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Ethiopian Ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia's construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile.
Head of the ministry's African affairs committee, Ambassador Ali Hefny, along with other diplomats, met with Dardir Wednesday to convey Egypt's unhappiness with the move.
Egyptian diplomats further criticised Ethiopia for going ahead with the project without taking into account the recommendations of a technical committee – tasked with studying the issue – consisting of ten specialists, including representatives of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
In a Tuesday interview with Ahram Online, Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris stated that Egypt was pursuing a "win-win scenario in which the interests of both sides can be served and accommodated."
Idris added: "We're expecting Ethiopian officials to make good on their earlier promise to act in a way that would not harm Egyptian interests."
A report on the possible impact of Ethiopia's 'Renaissance Dam' is expected to be issued later this week by the committee of specialists.
Sources close to the committee say the report will include concerns over the potential impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.
It is also expected to refer to worries that cracks could develop in the dam within a few years, eventually leading to serious flooding.
Ethiopia on Tuesday began diverting the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its project to build a series of new dams for electricity production.
The move, called "historic" by Ethiopian government spokesperson Bereket Simon, has prompted criticism from downstream Egypt and Sudan, since the step could negatively affect both countries' water quotas.
The Blue Nile provides Egypt with the lion's share of its annual 55 billion cubic metres of river water.
According to the state-run National Planning Institute, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050 – on top of its current quota of 55 billion metres – to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million.
Egypt pursuing win-win solution with Ethiopia: Ambassador
Dina Ezzat , Wednesday 29 May 2013
Ethiopian dam not necessarily harmful to Egypt, mutually beneficial solution possible, says Egyptian ambassador in Addis Ababa
“Ethiopia has repeatedly and publicly affirmed that Egypt’s water interests will not be harmed [by the construction of the Renaissance Dam] and we are following up on this,” Mohamed Idris, Egyptian ambassador in Addis Ababa, told Ahram Online on Tuesday.
Idris was speaking by phone from the Ethiopian capital after Monday's announcement by Ethiopia that it would begin work on diverting the course of the Blue Nile as part of the Renaissance Dam project.
The dam is already under construction despite requirements under international law that all Nile Basin states must agree before such a project is undertaken.
The Renaissance Dam is expected to require the storage of over 70 billion cubic metres of water from the Blue Nile that provides Egypt with over 80 percent of its annual share of Nile water – with the rest coming from Uganda.
The construction of the dam was effectively initiated some two years ago following the signing of an agreement by most upstream Nile Basin states. Ethiopia will use the dam to generate electricity to meet its expanded development needs, with extra for exports.
“We are pursuing a win-win scenario in which the interests of both sides can be served and accommodated,” Idris said.
The possibility of only mild damage to Egypt’s interests is possible because the water to be stored behind the dam will only be used to generate electricity and not for irrigation.
“There are several factors that should be taken into consideration and will be decided upon by technical experts. We are expecting Ethiopian officials to make good on their promise to act in a way that will not harm Egyptian interests,” Idris said. “It is not impossible,” he added.
A report on the possible impact of the Renaissance Dam is expected to be published this week by a committee of representatives and experts from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
Sources close to the committee say the report will reveal some concerns over the impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan. It is also expected to reveal concerns that cracks could develop in the dam within a few years and eventually lead to serious flooding.
Idris said he had not read the report and was not willing to speculate on its content. “We have initiated a new phase of good relations with Ethiopia since the January 25 Revolution. There is new momentum that has seen greater bilateral trade and more Egyptian investment in Ethiopia, in addition to the expansion of cooperation,” he said.
“In a positive atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation we are certainly capable of moving forward with our joint cooperation, but should the overall atmosphere take a negative turn it is unlikely that we could pursue the improvement in our mutual interests,” Idris stressed.
The construction of the dam is likely to be completed in around three years if Ethiopia manages to keep the funds flowing. So far Ethiopia says it is only using national funds. Cairo has made a point of reminding potential international donors that any aid should be consistent with international regulations that demand the full consent of all Nile Basin states for key Nile projects.
Idris is hopeful that an agreement can be reached while the dam is being constructed so both sides can manage the matter “with consideration for the development interests of both sides.”
He added, “We are in continuous consultation with Ethiopia and this will be upgraded to ensure the matter is given the fullest consideration and fulfills the interests of both nations."
Idris said the diversion of the Blue Nile is a step in the dam-construction process and the most crucial matter ahead is the pace of water storage and safety considerations.
“At the end of the day we cannot agree to anything that would harm our interests. I think this is clear and legitimate,” he added.
Officials, experts differ on impact of Ethiopia dam move on Egypt
Ahram Online, Tuesday 28 May 2013
While Egyptian officials say Ethiopia's diversion of Blue Nile will not impact country's access to Nile water, some local experts disagree, describing potential effect on Egypt as 'hugely negative'
Reactions on the part of Egyptian government officials, diplomats and experts varied regarding Ethiopia's decision to divert the course of the Blue Nile – one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries – as part of its Renaissance Dam project.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian presidency announced that ongoing construction work on the dam by the Ethiopian government would not adversely impact Egypt's annual allotment of Nile water.
The planned dam has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government, amid sensitivities about its possible effect on the volumes of water that will reach Egypt if the project is completed.
According to the state-run National Planning Institute, Egypt will require an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050 – on top of its current annual quota of 55 billion metres – to meet the needs of a projected population of some 150 million.
In a Tuesday statement, Egypt's irrigation ministry said that Egypt would "not accept" any project that has a negative impact on Nile water flow.
The ministry added, however, that Ethiopia's diversion of the Blue Nile would not stop the river flow, stressing that Tuesday's development in Ethiopia simply constituted an "engineering procedure."
According to the ministry, the Egyptian government is currently awaiting a final report by a joint committee – including Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives – on the impact of the planned dam. The report is expected within days.
Egypt's ambassador in Addis Ababa Mohamed Idris, for his part, said that Ethiopia's intention to divert the Blue Nile had been known among Egyptian officialdom since November.
Ethiopia formally began the project on Tuesday to coincide with the country's national day celebrations, Idris said in televised comments.
He went on to stress that Egypt would continue to receive its full quota of Nile water despite the launch of the Ethiopian project.
Hani Raslan, on the other hand, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin desk at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, asserted that the Ethiopian dam project would have a "hugely negative" impact on Egypt.
Raslan went on to accuse Egypt's government – especially Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa El-Din – of downplaying the project's potentially negative impact.
"They have hypnotised Egyptian society, making the issue appear much smaller than its repercussions will be," he said.
Raslan called on Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to take "urgent steps" to contain the crisis, including the prosecution of those who he said were responsible for "neglecting Egypt's national security."
An informed government official told Ahram Online that that Addis Ababa was offering "reassurances" that it would be "sensitive" to Egyptian concerns and would "try to accommodate" Cairo's demand that it fill the planned dam's reservoir only gradually, so as to ensure that the effect on Egypt's annual share of Nile water would not be too abrupt.
On Tuesday, Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt Kamal Hassan stated that Egypt and Sudan may call for intervention by the Arab League in response to the Ethiopian move.
Ethiopian officials dispel fears over dam's impact
Reuters, Ahram Online, Wednesday 29 May 2013
Officials in Ethiopia seeks to allay Egyptian concerns over construction of $4.7 bn hydroelectric dam on Blue Nile
Ethiopia began diverting a stretch of the Nile on Tuesday to make way for a $4.7 billion hydroelectric dam that is worrying downstream countries dependent on the world's longest river for water.
The Horn of Africa country has laid out plans to invest more than $12 billion in harnessing the rivers that run through its rugged highlands, to become Africa's leading power exporter.
Centrepiece to the plan is the Grand Renaissance Dam being built in the Benishangul-Gumuz region bordering Sudan. Now 21 percent complete, it will eventually have a 6,000 megawatt capacity, the government says, equivalent to six nuclear power plants.
"The dam is being built in the middle of the river so you can't carry out construction work while the river flowed," said Mihret Debebe, chief executive officer of the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, at a ceremony at the site.
"This now enables us to carry out civil engineering work without difficulties. The aim is to divert the river by a few metres and then allow it to flow on its natural course."
Ethiopia's ambitions have heightened concerns in Egypt over fears the projects may reduce the river's flow. Addis Ababa has long complained that Cairo was pressuring donor countries and international lenders to withhold funding.
Ethiopia's energy minister moved to dispel fears over the dam's impact.
"The dam's construction benefits riparian countries, showcases fair and equitable use of the river's flow and does not cause any harm on any country," Alemayehu Tegenu said in a speech.
Mohamed Bahaa El-Din, Egypt's Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, said Cairo was not opposed to Ethiopia's development projects as long as they did not harm downstream countries.
"Crises in the distribution and management of water faced in Egypt these days and the complaints of farmers from a lack of water confirms that we cannot let go of a single drop of water from the quantity that comes to us from the Upper Nile," he said.
A panel of experts from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan is set to announce its findings on the impact of the Ethiopian dam on the Nile's flow in the next two weeks.
Sudanese Minister of Water Resources Osama Abdullah arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a one-day visit to discuss the dam's impact with Egyptian officials, state news agency MENA said.
Ethiopia celebrates decision on Blue Nile dam
Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 May 2013
Ethiopia marks beginning of project to divert Blue Nile for Renaissance Dam, Egypt fears losing share of Nile water
Ethiopian television on Tuesday celebrated the start of a project to divert the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported.
The Ethiopian government's decision to divert the river surprised many observers when it was announced on Monday.
The power-generating dam will reduce Egypt's and Sudan’s share of Nile River water by 18 billion cubic meters annually, Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Bahaaeddin predicted in comments published in the Ethiopian Review.
Ethiopian government spokesperson Bereket Simon said he expects "outrage" from the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan, which fear their share of the Nile's water will be reduced.
The project is the first of its kind by an upstream Nile Basin country.
Egypt has been suffering from water shortages over the past few years. According to the National Planning Institute, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current 55 billion cubic metres quota of Nile water, to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million people.