Nile dam will not impact Egypt's water share: Ethiopian minister

MENA, Ahram Online, Monday 27 May 2013

Dam to be used exclusively for power generation and Egypt could benefit from exports of surplus electricity, Ethiopian minister tells reporters

Nile water
Nile river Egypt Photo: Reuters)

Ethiopia's planned Renaissance Dam will not cut into Egypt's share of Nile water, Ethiopia's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Berhane Gebre-Christos said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Gebre-Christos affirmed that the dam, which is currently under construction to store 84 million cubic metres of Nile water, will be used exclusively for power generation and not for irrigation.

Egypt and Ethiopia are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a partnership among Nile states aimed at sharing the river's socio-economic benefits and promoting regional security.

The Ethiopian official's announcements echoed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's statement on Saturday that he had reached an agreement with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that both countries' interests would be addressed during the building of the dam in Ethiopia.

The Renaissance Dam is one of four dams analysts say could be built along the Blue Nile, one of the two branches of the Nile, which provides Egypt with about 60 percent of its annual allotment of 55 billion cubic metres of Nile water.

Although topographical factors make it technically impossible to use the dam for any agricultural purposes, Ethiopia hopes the dam will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, providing it with a surplus which it would then export to neighbouring countries, including Egypt, the minister said.

Egypt has been hit with increasingly frequent nationwide power outages due to ongoing fuel shortages and rising demand with the start of summer.

Gebre-Christos stressed that relations between the two Nile basin countries are of utmost importance, and have been improving since the fall of the Mubarak regime, which he said did not make efforts to build a real partnership with its African neighbour based on mutual interests.

A joint committee of Egyptian, Sudanese, and Ethiopian experts has been meeting for almost two years to examine the plan of construction for the Renaissance Dam and its possible effects on, among other issues, Egypt's share of Nile water.

Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres a year by 2050, on top of its current 55 billion metres quota, to meet the water needs of a projected population of 150 million people according to Egypt's National Planning Institute announced.

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