The politics surrounding Ethiopia’s Grand
Millennium Renaissance Dam changes only slightly more frequently than the project’s name, and we are excited to bring you one of the most positive updates since the saga began. Ethiopia has being posturing against Egypt’s historical monopoly of the Nile river’s waters for months, even though the country lacks the funds to see a potentially environmentally destructive 5,250MW dam to completion without help.
Loyal Ethiopians unaffected by urging from UNESCO to halt another dam contract awarded to a similar consortium of cronies accused us time and again of turning a blind eye to their distressing energy poverty. But that was never the case. We have always advocated for a fair distribution of the Nile river, as well as for a thorough investigation of the project’s potential environmental impact. We may finally have received our wish, but it’s probably not as altruistic as it seems.
Egypt’s Nile Basin tour
According to our friends at Almasry Alyoum, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr will take a tour of six Nile Basic countries in the second week of January.
Nile Basin Coordinator Maddy Amer said in a statement that solving the Nile river issue is top priority for the country that is still struggling under the weight of political mayhem.
Amer added that while Egypt has not changed its position on the Nile dam, it won’t accept an Ethiopian solution that jeopardizes either Sudan or Egypt, and that Ethiopia has to cooperate if it hopes to receive any funding.
If the dispute over Nile waters has not been settled, then aid groups will be unwilling to put forth financial assistance.
But the most promising development we’ve seen is the commitment from Addis Ababa, Cairo, and Khartoum to finally prepare a technical report that evaluates the potential impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam.
6 experts – two from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan – will choose an additional 4 international experts to help them conduct a year long study that is expected to start as soon as next month.
The team of 10 experts should be able to produce an impartial scientific document which lays out exactly what is at stake if the dam is allowed to continue – without favoring any one country.
One hopes that up and downstream ecological consequences will be considered, as well as the potential effects that climate change will have in the future.
Ethiopia needs power, everyone needs water, but there must be a way to accomplish this without hasty planning. This recent news gives us hope that finally this dispute is taking a constructive, diplomatic turn.
map via University of Bergen