Ethiopia Accepts Nile Dam Report as Egypt Calls for More Studies
Ethiopia’s government said it’s satisfied with an international study on a hydropower dam on the Blue Nile River that Egypt said was insufficient to assess the project’s impact on downstream nations.
Ethiopia, source of one of the two tributaries of the Nile River, may start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile by 2015. The 80 billion-birr ($4.3 billion) state-owned hydropower project may begin generating electricity in 2015 and is set for completion in June 2017. Construction began two years ago.
Four neutral experts and four each from Ethiopia and the two downstream nations, Sudan and Egypt, submitted their final report to the governments, Ethiopian Communications Minister Bereket Simon said. The panel found the project and design were of an “international standard,” he said in a phone interview yesterday from Addis Ababa, the capital.
“We are happy with the outcome,” Bereket said. “They did not say any negative things about it.”
Once completed, the project will be Africa’s largest power plant with the capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts. Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all of its water, has historically opposed upstream projects on the world’s longest river.
The committee found studies from the Ethiopian side “did not clarify in detail the impacts of the dam,” the Egyptian presidency said in a statement on its Facebook site.‘Urgent Action’
The committee’s report suggested “urgent action” for the countries to agree on steps to prevent “negative consequences” from the dam, it said. Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi “urged quick action to handle the situation before” there is any further construction of the dam, it said.
Ethiopia has said it will take five to six years to fill the 74 billion cubic-meter (2.6 trillion cubic-feet) reservoir. “The downstream flow of water is not going to be a serious problem,” Bereket said.
The report recommended the environmental impact of the dam on downstream nations should be examined, Bereket said. Ethiopia wants to engage in further dialogue on the project, which will be financed entirely from domestic funds, he said.
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