Stalled Nile dam project ramps up water crisis

Published 17.09.2019 00:08

Amid an ongoing standoff over a multibillion-dollar dam project on the Nile river, Egypt on Sunday said negotiations over an upstream Nile dam being built by Ethiopia have not led to any "breakthrough."

Trilateral talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been deadlocked for more than a year before restarting in Cairo earlier in the day. Egypt fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will cut into its share of the river, which provides virtually all the freshwater for the arid country of 100 million people. Ethiopia, which has the same sized population, says the dam is essential for its economic development.

In May last year, the three countries reached an agreement to set up a scientific study group to consult on the filling of the dam. But no progress was reported since then. The dam is now more than 60% finished, and Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon its completion. The dam will generate about 6,400 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia's current production of 4,000 megawatts. Egypt received the lion's share of the Nile waters under decades-old agreements seen by other Nile bastion countries as unfair.

The dam project, launched by Ethiopia in 2012, is designed to feed a hydroelectric project to produce 6,000 megawatts of power, equal to six nuclear-powered plants. The construction of GERD, the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa, has poisoned relations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The dispute centers on the right to control a section of the Nile that stretches 6,695 kilometers from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean and is the economic lifeblood of all three countries.

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