Saturday, June 15, 2013

Egypt’s PM under fire over Ethiopian Dam

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil
Qandil accused of leaking confidential data to a Dutch company

Cairo: Dr Hisham Al Nashwi, Chief Engineer of Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI), accuses Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of leaking information, studies and confidential data about revenues and flooding of the Nile River in Egypt to a Dutch company developing the design of Ethiopian Renaissance.
Al Nashwi, who is member of Unesco’s International Hydrologic Programme (IHP), said that Qandil, as he was Minister of Irrigation in 2011, helped the Dutch company Deltares to expedite the completion of the design.
Deltares, according to its website, is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure. Its main focus is on deltas, coastal regions and river basins. It works closely with Dutch government, international governments, knowledge institutes and market parties.
Deltares launched in March 2011 its programme DEWFORA, Improved Drought Early Warning and Forecasting to strengthen preparedness and adaptation to droughts in Africa. DEWFORA kickoff meeting and General Assembly was held at the premises of Deltares, in the city of Delft the Netherlands, in March 2011. The meeting was attended by representatives from all consortium partners. They include Nile Forecast Centre of Egypt’s MWRI.
DEWFORA Project has held also two meetings in Sharm Al Shaikh and in Cairo.
Al Nashwi revealed in an interview on the private channel Sada Al Balad on Monday that Qandil provided the information to Deltares according to an agreement between the European Union and the Dutch company, upon which the EU sponsored 16 governmental and non-governmental organisations with 4.5 million Euro in return of information.
“According to the agreement, the Dutch company received important studies and confidential information from Qandil, the then Minister of Irrigation. The Ethiopians have used the leaked information, which poses a grave danger to Egypt’s national security, in construction of the Renaissance Dam,” Al Nashwi revealed.
He added that Ethiopia resorted to Deltares to gather long-needed data, essential for construction of the dam, because it hadn’t qualified experts who could prepare such studies.
Al Nashwi affirmed that Qandil approved the agreement and ordered his aides to prepare its financial regulations without submission to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) or the Parliament, according to the practice in such agreements. The Ministry already has gained the money after Qandil’s approval in 2011.
“The agreement made information about wind and floods and other confidential data available to the Ethiopian side easing the construction of the Renaissance Dam,” he continued.
Qandil denied the allegations and threatened to file a lawsuit against a newspaper published the written text of Al Nashwi’s interview, if it didn’t publish a denial over what he described as “groundless fiction”.
The PM said in a statement that “all what published relying on the interview with an engineer from Irrigation Ministry is baseless”.
The PM statement didn’t point out to Al Nashwi himself, who vowed to publish all the documents he has and to file a lawsuit against Qandil.
Meanwhile, Water resources experts claimed that the Prime Minister has excluded certain experts from a government-formed committee which studied the consequences of constructing the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Nader Nour Al Din, a professor of Water Resources at Cairo University’s Faculty of Agriculture, said that the government excluded irrigation experts, who warned against Ethiopian dams, from the committee.
Nour Al Din accused Qandil of failing to address the dam issue. He added that Qandil was a member of the former Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Abou Zaid’s team when Ethiopia built its first dam over the Tekeze River, which joins the Atbarah River in Sudan. The Atbarah River is a tributary of the Nile.
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil