Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sign accord on Nile dam

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed on a preliminary deal on a controversial dam project that Cairo feared would reduce its share of vital waters from the Nile river.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan all gathered in Khartoum on Monday to sign the agreement of principles on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam project.

“I confirm the construction of the Renaissance Dam will not cause any damage to our three states and especially to the Egyptian people,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the signing ceremony.

We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.

We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's President

Egypt, heavily reliant on the Nile for agriculture and drinking water, feared that the dam would decrease its water supply.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that “this is a framework agreement and it will be completed”.

“We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.”

Sisi said the final accord will “achieve benefits and development for Ethiopia without harming Egypt and Sudan’s interests”.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir hailed the deal as “historic”.

The agreement is made up of 10 principles, Egypt’s Water Resources Minister Hussam al-Maghazi told the AFP news agency.

The countries agreed on the “fair use of waters and not to damage the interests of other states by using the waters”.

They also agreed to establish “a mechanism for solving disputes as they occur”, Maghazi said.

He gave no details as to when the final agreement would be signed.

Sudan’s deputy water resources minister, Saif al-Din Hamed, said the signing of the agreement “will not stop the current construction and building” of the dam in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam, which will be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017.

Ethiopian officials have said the project to construct the 1,780-metre-long and 145-metre high dam will cost more than $4bn. More

 

 

The Palestinian dimension of the regional energy landscape

“The dynamic regional context creates opportunities for synergies between Palestinians, Israelis and other regional actors in the field of energy,” Ariel Ezrahi, Energy Advisor at the Office of the Quartet Representative told the International Oil and Gas Conference on Thursday (20 November 2014).

Ariel Ezrahi

In his presentation to the conference at the Dead Sea in Israel, Ezrahi gave an overview of the Palestinian energy sector including the current capacities, future demand, and potential opportunities for investment and development. He said that development of the Gaza Marine offshore gas field would constitute an important source of revenue for the Palestinian Authority, and fuel Palestinian power generation projects for years to come. The Gaza Marine field would not only be a cost-efficient solution for domestic power generation, but also a more environmentally friendly solution than the present sources of fuel, said Ezrahi.

He also noted that the West Bank currently has no power generation capacity whatsoever. Electricity usage is currently around 860 megawatts, but demand in the West Bank alone is expected to reach around 1,300 megawatts in 2020. Gaza currently receives between 150 to 210 megawatts, while demand is closer to 410 megawatts. By 2020, Ezrahi said, demand will hit 855 megawatts.

“There is a lot of room for cooperation in the energy sphere between Palestinian actors and Israel and other regional counterparts. I think it’s a very exciting time and that the energy sector can hopefully act as a bridge to overcome some of the political constraints. And that would be in everyone’s interest,” he told participants.

“Israel needs to see the Palestinians as an asset as they strive to join the regional power grid, and as a bridge to the Arab world.” Ezrahi emphasised that the Gaza Marine field should not be seen as a competitor to Israel’s fields, but rather, it provides a potential additional source of gas and opportunities for cooperation between the neighbouring countries. More

Related Links

  • Presentation on the Palestinian dimension of the regional energy landscape
  • ‘Israel’s bridge to the Arab world: Palestinian natural gas?’ article in Haaretz English Edition
  • ‘Gaza marine development could help deliver Israeli security,’ article in Rigzone
  • Ariel Ezrahi interivew with TheMarker (Hebrew)

One has to question why Gaza and Palestine would want to give their energy generation to Israel, the occupying power, or in fact help Israel sell their gas through Egypt. Using the gas from the Gazan fields would at least give both Gaza and Palestine energy independance and insulate them from the withholding by Israel of their tax receipts, see http://is.gd/FPWOWr Editor

 

Egypt refuses Renaissance Dam storage capacity

Egypt rejected the current the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) high storage capacity, as studies showed it will affect its national water security

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’

Egypt rejected the current the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) high storage capacity, as studies showed it will affect its national water security, reported state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) Sunday.

The dam’s storage capacity reaches 74bn cubic meters. Calling such capacity “unjustified and technically unacceptable”, Egypt asked Ethiopia to reduce it to what was agreed before the start of negotiations over the years-of-filling and operation of the dam.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the three countries involved, are facing difficulties in technical negotiations, said Alaa Yassin, Advisor to the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation and spokesman for the GERD file, according to state news agency MENA.

Yassin hopes that all parties adhere to the August agreements that took place in Sudan“without procrastination and time-wasting”, while the three countries are trying to overcome these difficulties.

“Egypt’s share in the historic Nile River water red line cannot be crossed,” Yassin told MENA.

Ethiopia began constructing the dam in 2011, and since then Egypt and Ethiopia have been locked in a diplomatic dispute, which reached a peak in 2013. Egypt, which utilises more Nile water than any other country, fears the dispute will have a detrimental effect on its share of Nile water.

As per agreements signed in 1929 and 1959, Egypt annually receives 55.5bn cubic metres of the estimated total 84bn cubic metres of Nile water produced each year, with Sudan receiving 18.5bn cubic metres. More

 

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.

Brief Synopsis

View the Executive Summary

Regime change during the Arab Spring allowed Islamist political forces that had long been marginalized to achieve political influence in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Morocco’s first government led by an Islamist party has been in power since January 2012. This trend caused widespread concern over the future direction of these states; but despite the tragic example of Egypt, few negative predictions have yet been borne out. The author cautions against an overly simplistic assessment of this rise in the influence and power of political Islam. He shows that the political crises besetting each of these Islamist governments are not necessarily of their own making, but instead are determined by objective circumstances. Dr. El-Katiri describes how, in several key respects, the aims of Islamist parties are in line with U.S. aspirations for the region.

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“Containing the Resource Crisis”

LONDON – The proclamation of a new Cold War, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, turned out to be alarmist and premature. However, it reflected the anxiety of today’s decision-makers in the face of a crumbling global order.


With emerging economies far from committed to established norms in international relations, many governments and multinational companies are feeling vulnerable about relying on others for vital resources – the European Union’s dependence on Russian gas being a case in point.

Competition for scarce resources is sorely testing our assumptions about global governance and cooperation, at a time when collective leadership is becoming ever more necessary. But even in the absence of overarching global legal frameworks, it is possible to maintain a sense of common security if the terms of resource investments are founded on long-term political understanding and commercial relationships, rather than short-term competition.

The stakes are high. Resource scarcity is closely linked to political risks. Consider, for example, the drought that decimated Russia’s 2010 wheat harvest. In response, Russia imposed export restrictions to shore up its domestic supplies, sending food prices soaring in its main export markets, especially Egypt. This in turn helped spark the political uprisings that spread rapidly across North Africa and the Middle East. Climate change is expected to trigger many more such chains of events.

One test case for such cooperation is the potentially explosive issue of the Nile Delta’s water resources. Britain’s colonial-era treaty has, since 1929, given Egypt a veto over any upstream river project that might affect the country’s water supply

One test case for such cooperation is the potentially explosive issue of the Nile Delta’s water resources. Britain’s colonial-era treaty has, since 1929, given Egypt a veto over any upstream river project that might affect the country’s water supply. Several Nile Basin countries, including Sudan and Ethiopia, have now ratified a new, Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework agreement, which Egypt has yet to sign. Given Egypt’s concerns about potential water shortages arising from Ethiopia’s new upstream hydropower plants, its assent is far from assured.

Indeed, in Egypt’s febrile political atmosphere, its newly elected president, General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, may be tempted to escalate the threat of military action in response to Ethiopia’s hydropower projects. Such a move would send shockwaves through a region already reeling from conflict in South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

To avoid another dangerous political-environmental chain reaction, nudging all sides toward agreement will require achieving mutual recognition of resource concerns. Ethiopia must credibly guarantee the supply of water downstream, for example, by establishing a water-replenishment rate at its dam reservoirs that does not threaten the onward flow of water to Egypt. At the same time, Egypt, while retaining the fundamental right to protect its water supply, must recognize the interests of its upstream neighbors and be ready to negotiate in good faith a new Nile Basin treaty.

Multinational companies and sovereign investors like China, which have financed hydropower projects upstream, will come under increasing pressure to adopt a position. They, too, can play a positive role by considering the cross-border investments that will address critical interdependencies, like Egypt’s wasteful agricultural irrigation practices.

Similar resource-related tensions are surfacing in other parts of the world. Water stress and food security threaten to constrain India’s economic promise, as increasing coal-powered electricity generation diverts water resources away from agriculture. The political risks of investing in Nigeria’s agriculture sector are also rising as a result of the country’s demographic explosion, high inflation, weak rule of law, and insecure land rights, with wider political consequences.

These resource strains are aggravated by foreign investments that seek to meet developed-country consumers’ voracious demand for resources without attention to their impact on sustainability in the host countries. This virtual outsourcing of the industrialized world’s environmental impacts, apart from being hypocritical, is no basis for building a strategy for global environmental sustainability.

Instead, the world needs to invest in sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and green infrastructure. To be sure, the most promising efforts by leading multinationals today must confront entrenched subsidies and vested political interests. Unless the necessary policy frameworks are put in place green investment initiatives will continue to struggle to achieve a meaningful scale. Moreover, developed and developing countries seem unable even to agree on a fair division of environmental responsibilities, even though they have become increasingly interdependent in trade, investment, and the supply of natural resources.

These difficulties should not stop us from trying. The Earth Security Initiative is working with the BMW Foundation to develop global roundtables on resource security over a two-year period, starting in Hangzhou, China, on July 17- 20. These high-level, informal meetings will bring together leaders from politics, business, and civil society in Europe and emerging economies in an effort to bridge just such differences.

We know what needs to be done, why it is important, and who must be involved to secure our planet’s long-term future. We must now address the equally vital question of how this will be achieved.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/alejandro-litovsky-addresses-the-increasingly-close-links-between-resource-scarcity-and-political-risk#qFDfi1xP668YyhLg.99