Talks on water security with Ethiopia and Sudan are on the brink of failure, and after writing tens of thousands of words on the subject in the past three years, we now feel we may (for this morning, at least) not be the only people in Egypt who give a rat’s [redacted] about our nation’s water security.
The background: The nation’s talking heads scrambled to master the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) last night after a spokesman for Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry said yesterday that talks had effectively deadlocked. Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aati has sent a report to Cabinet on the latest round of negotiations with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts, which broke down after the three sides were unable to find common ground, Al Ahram reports. The three have not set a date for the next round of negotiations. As we noted yesterday, Sudan and Ethiopia are refusing to ratify the environmental impact studies French consultancy firms conducted on the dam. According to Abdel Aati, the two countries requested to amend “critical areas” of the report.
Irrigation Ministry Spokesperson Hossam Al Imam phoned in to Al Hayah Al Youm to explain that ministry decided to hand over negotiations to ‘higher authorities’ — our take is that this means the presidency, the MoD and intelligence agencies — after Ethiopia and Sudan said they want to amend the report on the dam’s impact studies. Al Imam stressed that Egypt has been pushing negotiations along, telling host Tamer Amin that the ministry is well aware that the issue is time-sensitive. The three countries’ prime ministers and presidents are now required to take political steps to reach a final solution on the technical agreement, without which further talks are impossible, Al Imam said (watch, runtime: 4:59).
Imam also told Yahduth fi Masr’ Sherif Amer that Ethiopia and Sudan both objected to standards the international consultants used to evaluate the dam’s potential impact on downstream nations.
Kol Youm’s Amr Adib, meanwhile, focused on Egypt’s plans to fulfill its water needs without relying on the Nile. Housing Ministry facilities advisor Sayed Ismail told Adib that the government is currently building three desalination plants, each with a production capacity of 150k cubic meters per day. The country’s overall capacity for water desalination has increased tenfold in two years to reach 700k cubic meters per day as new desalination plants have been built (watch, runtime: 6:25).
Desalination appears to be at the center of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority’s water resources development plan, according to the authority’s boss, Gen. Kamel El Wazir, who phoned in to chat with Adib. The authority plans on establishing desalination plants along its Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts, El Wazir said. Among the plants currently under construction is one in Ain Sokhna that will provide 164k cf/d of water to projects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (watch, runtime: 10:48).
Metro prices will change, just not now: Over on Masaa DMC, Cairo Metro Company Spokesperson Ahmed Abdel Hady told Eman El Hosary that metro tickets will eventually be priced according to the distance traveled, rather than have a unified price. Abdel Hady said that ticket prices will remain as they are for the foreseeable future, but an increase is inevitable (watch, runtime: 4:40).
El Hosary also talked to House Education Committee member Magda Nasr about the bill to establish an Egyptian space agency, which the committee approved yesterday. Nasr noted that the agency will be funded through state coffers and donations (watch, runtime: 4:38).
Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi was still focused on developments in Lebanon, speaking to journalist Paula Yacoubian, who interviewed former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri. Yacoubian maintained that Al Hariri is not under arrest, and that Saudi Arabia did not interfere in the direction of the interview or the questions she was permitted to ask (watch, runtime: 9:51).