Simegnew, the engineer, told reporters that some of the diverted Nile waters are accumulating in a temporary coffer dam, and officials say that the filling of the reservoir will start next year. Power lines to connect the dam’s output with the national grid are being put up, and cables from the national grid extend to Djibouti, Sudan and, later, Kenya.
“During the filling of the reservoir, which will take five to six years, we won’t have any fixed impoundment rate to make sure the water flow downstream will not be significantly affected,” Simegnew said.
Ethiopia’s Nile project has won the support of upstream countries in East and Central Africa that have been meeting under the banner of the Nile Basin Initiative, which endorsed the new Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement. That accord, ratified last month by Ethiopia’s parliament, was conceived to replace the 1929 treaty written by Britain that awarded Egypt veto power over other countries’ Nile projects. Sudan and Egypt signed a deal in 1959 splitting the Nile waters between them without giving other countries consideration. Egyptian politicians have suggested attacks against Ethiopia to sabotage the dam, and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi last month warned that “all options are open” to challenge the project.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that, while he was willing to accommodate Egypt’s concerns, the continued constructing of the dam and its size are “red lines” that will not be crossed by the negotiations.
If the dam is completed without incident, it would be a remarkable achievement for Ethiopia’s leaders who dreamed of something big and wanted an equally grand name for the dam. Originally a secret project called X, the dam was later called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, said he doubted Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia over the Nile River would degenerate into armed conflict.
“Following long periods of silence, there are periodic outbursts as we have seen in the past month,” said Shinn, who is now a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. “I expect this trend to continue but not to result in conflict between the two countries.”
The Ethiopian government, which secured a $1 billion loan from China for power lines for the Nile dam, says it will continue to raise more funds domestically. Government employees have for the second time paid their one-month salary to buy bonds the government is selling. Private banks are ordered by the central bank to buy bonds worth millions of the Ethiopian birr.
Yilma Seleshi of the Ethiopian Water Resource Institute says the dam would consistently bring in hard currency for at least a century, returning the massive investment it is requiring. In his study presented during a meeting at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University last week, he estimated that Ethiopia would earn 2 million euros in daily income from power sales to neighboring countries.<< previous 1 2 3