Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to jointly assess the impact on the environment likely to be made by the construction of Africa’s largest dam over the Nile River.
Egypt has opposed the construction of the Great Renaissance Dam by Ethiopia saying it would affect water levels downstream.
But Ethiopian state television (ETV) reported that a deal had been struck during Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s weekend visit to Cairo.
Egypt recently sent a high powered delegation to discuss the project with officials from the Horn of Africa country.
The Ethiopians have maintained that the dam, which will cost US$5 billion will not affect Egypt or Sudan.
The dam is expected to generate around 5,250 megawatts (MW) of electricity when complete.
The authorities expect the first phase of the hydropower station to be complete in two years time.
Meles has repeatedly warned that nothing will stop his country from constructing the dam.
Ethiopia is also constructing other dams along the Nile as part of efforts to become Africa’s major electricity supplier.
The government will construct power stations that would produce 20 000 megawatts of electricity in the next 10 years, which will cost US$10 billion.
It is already selling electricity to Djibouti while exports to Sudan and Kenya are expected to start next year.
Under colonial-era treaties, Egypt is entitled to around 55 billion of the river's 84 billion cubic meters of water and is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for its water.
Ethiopia contributes more than 80% of water flowing on the Nile river, and is regarded as the “Mother of Nile River”.
Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia were strained last year after six of the nine Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, signed a deal that stripped Cairo of its veto powers when it came to the Nile River.
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