June 9, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s information minister and government spokesperson Ahmed Bilal Osman insisted today that Sudan would benefit from the controversial Ethiopian renaissance dam and stressed that Ethiopia has engaged Sudan in all operations associated with the dam building.
- Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman speaks during a joint press conference with the chief of Sudan’s intelligence service Mohammed Atta (unseen) in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on June 9, 2013. (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
At a press conference in Khartoum, Osman announced that Sudan’s minister of water resources and electricity Osama Abdalla Mohamed al-Hassan will travel for Cairo early next week.
He said that the ten-member committee which includes representatives from Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt as well as international experts has dispelled all concerns raised about the dam, adding that Sudan is ready to send experts and technicians to help in the construction of the dam.
The Sudanese official also downplayed fears of a possible collapse of the dam which could lead to flooding Sudan and said that construction technology has improved and added that the Italian company which is building the dam would not risk its reputation, noting that Khartoum is keen on strengthening relations with Cairo and Addis Ababa.
Osman mentioned that several dams such as Al-Rusairs dam in East Sudan and the Aswan dam in Egypt which accommodates 162 billion cubic meters of water have survived for tens of years and did not crumble.
He said that Sudan sacrificed 22 villages and a million palm trees and an entire civilization in the far north in order to allow the Egyptians build the Aswan dam in 1964.
Osman demanded those whom he said do not comprehend the sanctity of the relations between Egypt and Sudan to stop “muddling”.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.
Egypt and Sudan had previously argued that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be blocked, calling on international donors against funding it.
However Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced his support to the project in March 2012, saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.
Khartoum’s stance have aggravated Egypt in recent weeks with many political figures blasting Sudan’s “treachery”.
Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.
The first phase of construction of the $4.2 billion dam is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.
Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.