Ethiopia is committed to guaranteeing the water interests of both Nile basin states and Egypt, said Aba Dula Gemeda, Ethiopia’s lower house speaker, according to Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA on Wednesday.
“Some elements on the Egyptian side publish inaccurate information about the Renaissance Dam, but Ethiopia is gaining the international community’s support,” Gemeda said.
Gemeda emphasised Addis Ababa’s eagerness to achieve economic cooperation with Egypt along with an “equitable sharing of water resources,” pointing out that the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) has been signed into Ethiopian law.
The CFA replaces a colonial-era agreement that granted Egypt and Sudan the majority of water rights, preventing upstream countries from implementing irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt’s approval.
On 30 June, Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhanom said that Ethiopia hopes talks with Egypt will ease the row over sharing the Nile’s waters.
Egypt and Sudan have not signed the CFA – which was developed by the Nile Basin Initiative – but six upstream nations have, AFP reported.
Signatory countries include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Democratic Republic of Congo and the newly independent South Sudan have said that they also intend to join.
For decades, Egypt held veto rights over all upstream projects, following powers granted by a 1929 colonial-era treaty with Britain.
Egypt’s subsequent 1959 deal with Sudan gave the two downstream countries more than 90 percent control of Nile waters.
Ethiopia signed the CFA in May 2010, and its June ratification in parliament comes amid rising tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo over Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May, paving the way for its $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) hydroelectric dam that is set to become Africa’s largest once completed.
The Horn of Africa country has pledged to press ahead with the dam, despite Egypt’s reservations.