Africa, Dam Design and Construction, Government and Policy News, New Development

Leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia agree to mutual cooperation in Nile River management

A weekend meeting between the leaders of Egypt and Ethiopia seems to have quelled disputes over construction of the latter’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, whose impoundment of the Blue Nile River has created tension between the African countries for years.

Speaking at a joint press conference after a two-day state visit to Cairo, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised the project would not negatively impact Egypt’s share of waters.

“I swear to God, we will never harm you,” Ahmed told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi. “We will take care of the Nile and we will preserve your share. We will work to increase this quota, and President Sisi and I will work on this.”

The meeting followed a May resolution between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to establish a scientific study group to consult on the filling of the facility’s reservoir.

The US$6.4 billion project has been controversial throughout its decades-long development due in large part to fear from downstream Egypt.

Egypt draws nearly all of its waters from the Nile River, which is fed almost entirely by the Blue Nile. The country has expressed concern that the rate at which Ethiopia wants to fill the reservoir might cause shortages.

Ethiopian Electric Power has been working to build GERD since 2011, with construction now reported as being about 60% complete. GERD is to feature the largest roller-compacted-concrete volume dam in the world at 10.2 million cubic meters. The reservoir it impounds will have a capacity of 70 cubic kilometers. Two powerhouses will contain 16 Francis turbine-generator units, and total annual generation is expected to be 15 TWh.

Hydro Group Managing Editor Elizabeth Ingram recently interviewed Ethiopian Electric Power CEO Azeb Asnake, who discussed the utility’s role in developing infrastructure for the region. Watch the interview here.