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Paying for giant Nile dam itself, Ethiopia thwarts Egypt but takes risks

Published: Apr 23, 2014 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics

(Reuters) - Ethiopia's bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile's waters, and may help transform one of the world's poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub.

By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. The electricity it will generate - enough to power a giant rich-world city like New York - can be exported across a power-hungry region.

But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardize Ethiopia's dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025.

The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year. In the sandy floor of the Guba valley, near the Sudanese border, engineers are laying compacted concrete to the foundations of the barrage that will tower 145 meters high and whose turbines will throw out 6,000 megawatts - more than any other hydropower project in Africa.

So far, Ethiopia has paid 27 billion birr ($1.5 billion) out of a total projected cost of 77 billion birr for the dam, which will create a lake 246 km (153 miles) long.

Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam: ending the logic of might over the Nile Basin

Published: Apr 23, 2014 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News
Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam: ending the logic of might over the Nile Basin
By Mansour Al Hadi (Ph.D.)

Fierce resistance to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project has an unprecedented and strong presence in the major circles of Egyptian media, academia and polity based upon the water policy of ‘I win if you lose.’ Recent unsubstantiated hypothetical calculations made by Egyptian officials and opinion makers have suffered from scientific and logical imprecision.

In an interview with Tahrir satellite channel, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Friday March 7, 2014 reminded Ethiopia that his country would take “a decisive response” on the construction of the GERD if future negotiations failed. He also underscored that “Addis Ababa should bear the consequences of that crisis.” This entails that there are people who would like to ride the boats of the passing ages within the helm of myth, Pax Britannica, Cold War, Pax Americana and unilateral water security cards.

Swaying between cooperation and contention, Egypt’s persistence on a choiceless singular water policy to make the Nile River prey to its exclusive utilization, use and development becomes customary. This deep-rooted unquenchable thirst for ‘water imperialism’ and the securitization policy of the River were implanted by Muhammed Ali, the first ruler of present day Egypt.

Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute

Published: Apr 21, 2014 by Babu2 Filed under: Ethiopian News
Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute
While construction of Africa's largest hydroelectric dam continues apace, downstream neighbour Egypt is crying foul.

In the three years since construction began on the 1.8km Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam across the Blue Nile River, Egypt and Ethiopia have been engaged in a war of words over its potential impacts.

Ethiopia believes the massive dam will herald an era of prosperity, spurring growth and attracting foreign currency with the export of power to neighbouring countries. But Egypt has raised concerns about the downstream effects, as the Blue Nile supplies the Nile with about 85 percent of its water.

Both sides say they seek a negotiated solution, but they remain at loggerheads, with negotiations stalled. Ethiopia insists the dispute must be resolved through negotiations between the two parties, with Mahamoud Dirir, the ambassador to Egypt, noting in a statement last month that "there are only two… countries in the entire world which are well-placed to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia."

Sudan Blames Egypt for blocking Ethiopia Dam loans

Published: Apr 21, 2014 by Babu2 Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics
Sudan Blames Egypt for blocking Ethiopia Dam loans

Egypt is threatening Sudan’s safety by blocking international loans for Ethiopia’s hydro-dam, said Sudan’s top official of Eastern Blue Nile State Hussein Ahmad. According to the Sudanese mp, cash-strapped Ethiopia will end up shortcutting the hydrodam construction to avoid rising costs which could lead to long-term structural issues for the dam and flooding.

The Blue Nile State is located at the Sudanese border directly by the western Ethiopian region where the GERD hydrodam is currently under construction. In a scenario where the  dam collapses, analysts say Sudan’s Blue Nile State could be devastated with flooding.

The Sudanese official said “Egyptian racism toward Africa” played huge part in Egypt’s blocking of international financial aid to Ethiopia. He said Cairo cares more about control than safety since Egypt originally wanted to finance the Ethiopian dam itself. According to the SIS, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy “offered to finance the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance dam.”

The Sudanese official added that Khartoum will “hold Egypt fully responsible if structural failure of the dam results in Sudan’s flooding.”

Ethiopian dam to benefit Sudan: Official

Published: Apr 20, 2014 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics
Ethiopian dam to benefit Sudan: Official

ADDIS ABABA – A Sudanese governor has said that an Ethiopian dam project on the Nile River, which has been the source of tension with Egypt, will benefit Sudan.

"The dam will contribute share in efforts to extricate Ethiopia from poverty and will also benefit the people of Sudan," Hussein Yassin Hamad, the governor of the Blue Nile State, said at the opening of a joint border development commission meeting in Assosa, the capital of Ethiopia's Benshangul Gumuz region, according to a Sudanese diplomat.

"The people and administration of the Blue Nile State will provide the necessary support towards the completion of dam construction," he was quoted as saying by the diplomat.

Ethiopia is building a $4.8 billion dam on the Blue Nile, which represents Egypt's primary source of water.

The project has raised alarm bells in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, which fears a reduction of its historical share of Nile water.

GERD to generate electricity by 2015

Published: Apr 17, 2014 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News
GERD to generate electricity by 2015

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will start generating electricity in 18 months time with two of its sixteen turbines generating 375MW each, the Ethiopian Embassy in London has said.

The Deputy Director General of the GERD National Coordination Office, Mr Zadig Abraha, said that over the past three years, the sale of bonds to domestic investors had provided 7.1 billion birr ($367 million) towards the 27 billion birr spent so far. The total project will cost 75.5 billion birr.
Funding of the 6000MW hydropower project represents "the golden age of our history as far as economic development and public participation is concerned", said Abraha.

Any increase in Ethiopia's current generating capacity of 2000MW will allow the country to reduce its trade deficit by selling excess electricity - Ethiopia is already exporting power to Sudan and Djibouti, constructing a transmission line to Kenya and is in discussions with Yemen and South Sudan as well.

Once the GERD is finished and other hydropower projects, including the 1870MW Gibe III are online, Ethiopia could earn up to $2 billion a year from the export of power.
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