Ethiopia Rejects Egypt Proposal on Nile as Dam Talks Falter

Industry Tags: Advocacy, Dams

Ethiopia rejected a proposal that would guarantee Egypt the rights to most of the Nile River’s water, as disagreements cast doubt over future talks about Africa’s biggest hydropower project.

The 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River, set to be completed in 2017, has raised concern in Cairo that it will reduce the flow of the Nile, which provides almost all of Egypt’s water. The Blue Nile is the main tributary of the Nile.

The $4.2 billion dam 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Sudan’s border will benefit agricultural and power interests in the region and not cause water losses downstream, Ethiopia says. Sudan supports the hydropower project designed to produce electricity for much of East Africa that began in April 2011.

Egyptian officials at a Jan. 4-Jan. 5 meeting that also included representatives from Sudan, introduced a “principles of confidence-building” document asking Ethiopia to “respect” Sudan and Egypt’s water security, said Fekahmed Negash, the head of the Ethiopian Water and Energy Ministry’s Boundary and Transboundary Rivers Affairs Directorate. Discussing the issue would contravene an agreement signed by six Nile countries, he said in a phone interview on Jan. 6.

“We will not negotiate on this issue with any country,” Fekahmed said from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “That is why we say take it to the right platform” that includes other members of the Nile Basin, he said.

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