Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aty, said that Egypt showed great flexibility during the negotiation stages on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) expressing his country’s desire to reach a fair and legally binding agreement regarding filling and operating the dam.
He pointed out that the Ethiopian side is deliberately issuing false statements as well as managing the dam unilaterally, causing great damage to the downstream countries; Sudan and Egypt.
During his speech on Wednesday before a seminar at the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University, the minister stressed that any water shortage will affect millions of workers in the agricultural sector, which will cause social problems and security instability in the region and increase illegal immigration.
Egypt’s water needs amount to about 114 billion cubic meters annually with a deficit of about 54 billion cubic meters annually, and that gap is filled by reusing water, and Egypt imports agricultural crops equivalent to about 34 billion cubic meters annually.
The minister noted that the Nile river upstream countries have no problems with water as they receive huge amounts of rains, while Egypt suffers water scarcity. He stressed that Egypt is not against the development in the Nile Basin countries as it is already implementing several projects including dams and water projects in these countries.
Furthermore, Abdel Aty reviewed the project of the navigation corridor between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean, which aims to transform the Nile into a navigational artery linking the Nile Basin countries. It should start from the main source of the Nile in Lake Victoria which is located between Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. The project includes a navigation corridor, a road, a railway, an electrical interconnection, and an information cable to achieve the comprehensive development of the Nile Basin countries.
The minister pointed to the expected role of the project in supporting the movement of trade and tourism between the participating countries and the world, in addition to providing job opportunities, increasing the ability of the landlocked countries to connect to the seas and global ports.