Mohammed Abu Zaid
CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aty has presented Washington representatives with plans for a project to divert the Nile River into a navigational artery for the river basin countries.
During a meeting in Cairo, the two sides also discussed the repercussions of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis.
The meeting involved Matthew Parks, a water expert in the US government, Nicole Shampaine, the US deputy chief of mission in Cairo, and representatives of the US embassy in Cairo.
During the meeting, Abdel-Aty reviewed the project of a navigation corridor between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean that would transform the Nile into a navigational artery linking the Nile Basin countries. He did not specify the date of its launch or the participating countries.
The project includes a highway, a railway and other links to assist the development of the Nile Basin countries.
According to an Egyptian statement, “the American expert and the deputy ambassador expressed their interest in this project and said that it is one of the most important regional projects and will improve the economic and social conditions of all participating countries.”
The 11 countries in the Nile Basin are: Eritrea, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Egypt.
Abdel-Aty said that water scarcity and climate change make water management more difficult in Egypt, pointing out that any water shortage will affect workers in the agricultural sector, cause social problems and destabilize security in the region.
Referring to the Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is building, the minister said that Egypt showed great flexibility during the negotiations, and that the Ethiopian side is suggesting that it is obliged to fill it as a construction necessity and for the purpose of generating electricity, which is contrary to the truth.
He said: “Ethiopia is deliberately issuing false statements and managing the dam unilaterally, which has caused damage to the two downstream countries.”