Nile States Resume Talks to Resolve Dam Problems

  • According to the 1959 Nile Treaty, the current water distribution is limited to two countries: Egypt and Sudan.
  • Ethiopia says the dam "will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a significant power exporter."
  • Egypt is completely dependent on the Nile for water supply and irrigation, and considers the dam "an existential threat."

Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile is underway, raising speculation that it could lead to a “water war.” The dam is undoubtedly a source of tension between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. War itself, however, is extremely unlikely, between any of the three countries.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) formerly known as the Millennium Dam and sometimes referred to as Hidase Dam, is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia that has been under construction since 2011. Once completed, the reservoir could take anywhere between 5 to 15 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period and agreements reached between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

In fact, the dams have helped to transform sustainable energy ties and pave the way for greater cooperation between all countries based on the Nile. The Nile is known as the longest river in the world. It passes through 11 countries.

According to the 1959 Nile Treaty, the current water distribution is limited to two countries: Egypt and Sudan. Egypt accounts for 84 billion cubic meters of the total annual flow of the Aswan Dam.

The Nile has two main dams. The White Nile originates from quatorial lakes and the Blue Nile originates in the highlands of Ethiopia. Rainfall rates in these two sub-basins vary greatly.

About 86 percent of the water supply to Egypt comes from Ethiopia. During the rainy season, this rate can be as high as 95%. Although Ethiopia has made a significant contribution to the Nile, the river is of little use. Egypt also opposes the need for foreign exchange to develop dams and use the Blue Nile water for power generation and irrigation. Egypt became disillusioned.

Over the past decade, the Blue Nile Basin has undergone great economic and political changes. These include the birth of the new country, South Sudan, the Arab Spring, Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth in Egypt, and significant foreign investment in agriculture.

In April 2011, Ethiopia launched this long-term plan and the largest engineering project in history. The dam has a budget of $4.8 billion, and a capacity of 6,450 megawatts. It is located 15 km from Sudan. The border project will create more than 74 billion cubic meters of water reservoirs.

Ethiopia’s motivation to build this huge dam is very clear. About 10% of the energy is used and 25% of the population can use electricity. Ethiopia says the dam “will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a significant power exporter.”

Egypt, which has been controlling the Nile for centuries, is shocked by Ethiopia’s financial dominance. Egypt is completely dependent on the Nile for water supply and irrigation, and considers the dam “an existential threat.”

Egypt–Ethiopia relations refer to the bilateral relations between the governments of Egypt and Ethiopia. Both countries established diplomatic ties in 1927 to be the oldest on the African continent and one of the oldest in the world. In 1929, a British-sponsored treaty between Egypt and some Nile basin colonies awarded the former the right to veto any project that it deems threatening to its water share.

Widespread Streams

There is no doubt that Egypt’s water supply will have a significant impact on Egypt’s food production and public health. The dam is designed to generate electricity, which means it only stores water and does not use irrigation. Egypt is worried about losing control of the Nile.

Ethiopia’s view of the dam as a sense of national pride is a sign of economic success. He has received some support from Sudan who wants to buy cheap hydropower. Dams will be removed to prevent seasonal flooding, control of river flow, and prolong the life of Sudanese dams.

Other countries along the Nile, such as Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, support Ethiopia’s right to build dams because Egypt does not want to be seen as the owner of the river. Numerous attempts to establish a river basin water management framework have failed, particularly the Nile Basin development.

In recent years, Egypt’s first major opposition to the project has been largely destroyed. This was particularly the case in 2013, after technical negotiations between the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water authorities. Egypt now accepts the dam as a trustee, which is more than 70 percent complete.

Only $1/click

Submit Your Ad Here

Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

Leave a Reply