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Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s proposal to redesign Renaissance Dam

January 14 - 2016 ADDIS ABABA
Scale-model of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the source of the Blue Nile
Scale-model of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the source of the Blue Nile

Ethiopia has rejected Egypt’s proposal to redesign parts of the water outlets of the controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, currently under construction at the source of the Blue Nile.

Sudan Tribune reported Wednesday that Egypt sought an increase in the number of outlets at the massive dam to allow the water flow to the downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt fears that the dam, which will become Africa's largest power plant when completed in 2017, will severely curb its historical water share. A 1929 treaty, amended in 1959, with Sudan and Britain has given Egypt the right to veto any project upstream.

During the tripartite meeting in Khartoum last December on the dam, Cairo proposed an increase of the dam's water outlets from two to four to allow a much larger water flow downstream.

Ethiopia, however, rejected the proposal saying enough impact studies had already been conducted.

“The decision of building two openings came following intensive studies and Ethiopia does not need to redesign the dam project,” Bizuneh Tolcha, Public Relations Director at the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Irrigation told the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

Last December, the three countries also reached an agreement on the consultancy firms that will conduct technical studies on the mega-power project. The French Artelia and BRL groups have been selected to undertake dam impact studies.

Renaissance Dam

In 2013, Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile, to build the 6,000 MW dam. The construction of the 1,780-metre-long and 145-metre high dam will cost $4.2 billion. Officials stress that the main goal of the dam is “combating poverty and realizing development and prosperity”.

Ethiopia which intends to join middle income countries by 2025 is investing billions of dollars on mega projects as part of the nation’s efforts to combat poverty and bring sustainable development.

Egypt’s more than 80 million people depend for 85 percent on Ethiopia's Nile water resources.

In 1999, the Ministers of Water Resources of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, established the Nile Basin Initiative, to prevent escalation of simmering conflicts over the use of the river’s water.

Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda are backing the Ethiopian dam project.

(Sudan Tribune, Radio Dabanga,

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