A tri-partite treaty agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt has been signed in Khartoum for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, sparking the launch of a water resources modeling study and a hydropower simulation assessment.
The 11 month study, which will start in November and cost EUR 4.45 million, will assess the Dam’s trans-boundary environmental and socioeconomic impact, and will also asses how long the dam’s reservoir will take to fill.
Briefing local and foreign correspondents on 21st September, Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Motuma Mekassa said that the will run in parallel with the continuing construction of the dam.
Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is more than 70% complete and it has already begun production, which will amount to 800MW of electricity by 2017. Once complete, it will be Africa's largest dam.
Motuma stressed that Ethiopia is constructing the Dam “to harm no one” but to utilize its natural resources for the common benefit of the upper and lower riparian countries. "The findings of the study are expected to be final, legal and binding upon all parties. This study is about “restoring confidence between the three countries," he noted.
In addition to its economic advantage, the GERD will create regional integration among the East African countries and beyond, he said. Ethiopia is cooperating with Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda to further expand power line supplies.
Rwanda will import 400mw from Ethiopia by 2018. Sudan and Djibouti already import Ethiopian electricity generated from previous hydro dams, but there is also a plan to extend more power lines to Sudan, Djibouti and also to Somalia through the Eastern African Power Pool, which is working in 11 countries.
The study is being conducted under the supervision of the Tripartite National Committee (TNC). "We are keen to have everyone satisfied with what we are doing... we are for regional integration and prosperity," said Mohamed Abdel Aati, Egypt's water resources minister.
"We need to make sure that the outcome of these studies will strengthen our cooperation and ensure that the three countries benefit from the dam," concluded the Minister.
In 2015, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt signed a declaration of principles on the dam project that tacitly approved the dam construction but called for technical studies. The French engineering consultancy Artelia and BRL groups have been selected to undertake the dam impact studies. The UK-based law firm Corbett & Co has been selected to manage the legal affairs of the tripartite committee.
The multi-billion-dollar dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile, about 20km from the Sudanese border, with a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, and will generate up to 6000MW of electricity once complete.