Home | News    Thursday 5 May 2011

Ethiopia has no serious problem with Sudan over Nile - official

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 4, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Ethiopian official said on Wednesday that Sudan has been showing an encouraging interest to cooperate in resolving the long crises over the Nile’s water and is not considered as problem to Ethiopia over the issue.

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“We don’t have a serious problem with Sudan. We have cordial relations with both north and south Sudan” Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told Sudan Tribune.

South Sudan is due to separate from the north in July following a referendum in July, agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal.

Mufti said: “The Sudanese officials have been expressing desire towards solving the Nile row in cooperating with Ethiopia on equitable utilization.”

Egypt has been warning against any further dam building on the Nile water as it is concerned about the impact they will have on its historical water rights. Ethiopia have said the new dams they are building will not affect the flow of the water downstream and will bring large benefits to the country.

According to Dina Mufti, Ethiopia has allowed a team of Sudanese and Egyptian experts along with other Ethiopian and international scientists, to observe the new dam.

“Sudan supports Ethiopia’s project on Nile as it learns the benefits in terms of electric power supply and regular water flow” foreign Affairs Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn said at a recent press conference.

“In addition to obtaining electric power supply, Sudan and Egypt could also benefit from enough and regulated water flow and decreased siltation” he said.

Ethiopian officials argue that, 19 billion cubic meters of water is wasted through evaporation in downstream countries while the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia would lower the number to 0.4 billion cubic meters.

Ethiopia announced last month it was building a $4.78-billion mega dam on the Blue Nile near the Sudanese border.

Egypt last week sent a 48-member popular public diplomacy delegation to pave a new approach in smooth its relations with Ethiopia over the water row.

In respond to an encouraging gesture seen from the delegation, the Ethiopian government has agreed to delay ratifying the new Nile pact agreed by six Africa countries in Entebbe that seeks a change to the 1929 colonial era pact by Britain that gave lion’s share of the water to Egypt.

Ethiopia said the delay was made to allow Egypt to elect a new government after weeks of street protests brought down the Hosni Mubarek’s government in February.

Following the Entebbe agreement, Addis Ababa has rejected any bilateral dealing with Egypt.

The foreign affairs spokes person confirmed to Sudan Tribune that the Egyptian prime minister will arrive in Addis Ababa next week in which a number of agreements are expected to be signed with his Ethiopian counterpart.

When asked if there will be any bilateral deal to be signed between the two parties he said it is too early to comment.

“This is speculation; any agreements will be done after the meeting and a rumor on any bilateral deal is only hypothetical” Mufti said.

(ST)