Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s proposal to redesign Nile Dam - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 13, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia has rejected Egypt’s proposal to redesign parts of the water outlets of the controversial Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), which the horn of African nation is constructing along the Nile River.

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The planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project (AP)
According to the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Egypt has sought an increase on the number of outlets at the massive dam under-construction to allow water flow to downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan).

Egypt fears the construction of what would be Africa’s largest power plant would severely curb its historical water share.

The 1929 and 1959 treaties agreed along with Sudan and Britain has given Egypt historic rights to the river further granting the latter rights to veto any project upstream.

During the recently held tripartite meeting between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan Cairo has proposed an increase of water outlets at the dam from two to four to allow a much more water flow and thereby to prevent significant reduce on water flow to lower riparian nations.

Ethiopia, however, rejected the proposal saying enough impact studies had already been conducted.

“The decision of building two openings came following “intensive studies and Ethiopia does need to redesign the dam project” Bizuneh Tolcha, Public Relations Director at the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Irrigation told EBC.

Ethiopia launched the Nile dam project in 2011. Egypt whose people depend on the river for water sources says the $ 4.2 billion huge project will disrupt the flow of the Nile River and sees it as a national water security threat.

However Ethiopia says the project never intended to harm Egyptians but is necessary for development and should be taken as symbol of cooperation among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Ethiopian officials stress that the main goal of the dam is “combating poverty and realizing development and prosperity”

Ethiopia which intends to join middle income countries by 2025 is investing billions of dollars on mega projects as part of the nation’s efforts to combat poverty and bring sustainable development.

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is 1,780m long and 145m high dam and will have a capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

The construction of the dam has been a source of dispute between Ethiopia and the lower riparian countries, particularly Egypt.

The dispute further threatened war between Ethiopia and Egypt after Cairo considered other options including military actions to halt the dam project which is being build some 25 kilometers away from the Sudanese border.

But the three countries have later get themselves engaged in a number of tripartite talks to find a comprehensive agreement with the help of international panel of experts and consultancy firms.

Last month, the ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs for Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia reached a deal on a range of issues regarding Ethiopia’s Nile dam project.

The three parties have reached an agreement to select two consultancy firms (the French Artelia and BRL groups) to conduct the technical studies on the possible impacts of the dam.

The three Nile basin countries have also agreed to continue cooperation to build trust on concerns pertaining with GERD.

Ethiopia is a source to 85 percent of the Nile water resources which most of Egypt’s over 80 million people depend on for water supply.

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