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Foreign consultancy firms selected to study Ethiopia’s Nile dam

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

April 10, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan selected an international consultancy firms which will conduct further technical studies on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, an official said on Friday.

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Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (L), Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir (C) and Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn shake hands during a meeting in Khartoum on 23 March 2015 on the planned Grand Renaissance dam (Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

The selection of the international consultancy firms comes two weeks after leaders of the three countries signed a declaration of principles in Khartoum, a move seen as a major step towards resolving a long-running row over the utilisation of the Nile water resources.

Water ministers of the three Nile Basin countries have been in talks since Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to decide which consultancy company should be hired among.

A number of European firms including a prominent French company have originally submitted their technical and financial proposals.

Ethiopia water and energy minister, Alemayehu Tegenu told reporters that two foreign consultancy firms have now been selected to technically supervise the construction of the controversial dam which is being built along the Nile River in Benshangul Gumuz region some 40km from the Sudanese border.

Tegenu further said the two chosen firms will be tasked with studying hydrological simulation model and trans-boundary socio-economic and environmental impact assessment.

The additional studies will be carried out per recommendations forwarded by the international panel of experts which previously studied the impact of the dam on lower riparian countries.

According to the Ethiopian official, the two studies will be completed within five to12 months.

The names of the two chosen firms haven’t yet been made public.

“The committee will address the lead consultant to obtain its clearance and once received, the names of the two selected firms will be officially disclosed,” said a statement released by officials following the meeting.

Egyptian irrigation minister Hossam Moghazi told reporters that the meeting was successful.

He added the three countries reached agreement to select the two firms after separately evaluating proposals of the firms.

The $4.2 billion power plant has become a source of dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt.

Egypt considers the construction of the massive dam as a major threat to its water security as the desert North African nation fears that the massive dam with 74 billion cubic meter reservoir will eventually diminish its water share.

Cairo says the Nile River is the only water source for its over 90 million people and insists its historic water rights are maintained.

However, other upper riparian countries led by Ethiopia, which is the source of 85% of the water resource are joined to reverse the colonial era treaty, demanding a fair and equitable share.

Upon completion, the dam, which would be Africa’s largest, will have capacity of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity, making the country a major regional power hub and further enabling it to sell electricity to more countries, including to Egypt.

The construction of the dam project slated for completion in 2017 is currently 42% completed.

(ST)

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