As Ethiopia continues with its plans to build the Grand Renaissance Dam in order to meet the country’s burgeoning energy shortfall, Egypt is starting to worry that the hastily planned hydroelectric plant will put its own water supplies at considerable risk.
The rhetoric between the two countries reached a feverish pitch last week, prompting local media to hint at the possibility that Egypt would go to war to secure its share of the Nile River, while Ethiopia allegedly said it would be prepared to defend the project at all costs.
However, a spokesperson for Egypt’s armed forces assured Reuters that it’s far too soon to talk about war. And that makes sense.
Ethiopia still hasn’t secured sufficient funding to get the project off the ground, and if it does get funding from the World Bank or similar development organizations, it will likely come with peaceable conditions.
Still, the issue is testy enough that Egypt’s foreign minister Hohamed Kamel Amr is planning a visit to Ethiopia and Sudan in order to reach an agreement that would bode well for Egypt’s population of 80+ million.
One major concern is that the Grand Renaissance Dam will deplete the Nile River’s flow to below the 75 billion cubic meters over a five year period, which is necessary to sustain the water levels that both Egypt and Sudan are accustomed to.
Another is that Ethiopia’s failure to conduct legitimate environmental impact assessments and then follow through with sound development practices could lead to the contamination of the Blue Nile.
Egypt is expected to enter into tripartite discussions with Ethiopia and Sudan in order to reach an agreement that works for all three nations.