Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan announced on December 29th that they had reached a consensus over the next steps of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam project, reports Ahram Online. The Khartoum Document comes after 11 rounds of talks over the Dam, which many Egyptians view as a threat to Egypt’s economic security. Ethiopia claims the dam’s sole purpose is electricity generation for its industrialization efforts, and that Egypt’s share of Nile water, currently around 55bcm, will not be seriously changed.
The agreement calls for technical studies to be conducted over the next 8 months to address the concerns of the states involved. French companies Arterlia and BRL Group will conduct the studies, reports Daily News Egypt. The firms will study the dam and its effect on Nile downstream countries.
While the diplomats lauded the trust that had been built between the states that resulted in the agreement, a number of questions remain. Egypt has consistently raised concerns about water flows through the dam and Egyptian officials have made it clear those discussions are ongoing.
The Renaissance Dam’s reservoir will hold around 74bcm of water, which will take 3-5 years to fill, depending on rainfall and water released through the dam. As a result, water flows downstream are likely to be reduced – the key Egyptian concern, as the country relies on the Nile for electricity and agriculture. The Egyptian government is pushing for a long time frame for filling the lake. According to Daily News Egypt, Ethiopia has agreed to a meeting in early January to address the Egyptian proposal for an increased number of gates to increase water release downstream.
Hydroelectricity accounted for 9% – 13.7b KWh – of the Egyptian overall electricity generation in 2013, according to the US Energy Information Agency.