Ethiopia, Sudan agree on benefits of mega dam project

ETHIOPIA and Sudan agree on the benefits of a 6,450 MW hydro-power dam project Ethiopia is building on Blue Nile river, an official has said.

Hailu Abraham, head of public relations at the office of Ethiopia’s National Council for the Co-ordination of Public Participation on the Construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said the dam, which is being built in western Ethiopia, 40 km from the Sudanese border, will prevent siltation and climate extremes in Sudan by providing a regulated water flow once completed.

Water and irrigation ministers from Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt are meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss issues regarding technical studies on the dam.

Construction of the dam was launched in April 2011. When completed, it would be the largest power project in Africa.

The Ethiopian government said recently the dam project is 60 percent complete and that it would start testing power generation in 2018.

Sudan’s position on the dam is crucial for Ethiopia as Khartoum has in the past been closer to the position of the other riparian nation, Egypt, both expressing concern that the dam would reduce their water share.

Ethiopia’s Blue Nile river contributes to 59 percent of the Nile basin’s water flow, with Egypt, which relies on the Nile as the only ground fresh water source.

Sudan and Egypt made an agreement in 1959 to share exclusively the entire average annual flow of the Nile river among themselves.

‘Sudan came around to Ethiopia’s position on the mutual benefits of GERD after seeing the benefits of a 300 MW hydro dam project commissioned in November 2009 in a Nile tributary river Tekeze,’ said Abraham.

He added the Tekeze river, which flows to Sudan, had in the past caused flooding during the rainy season and drought during the dry season. With the commissioning of the hydro dam, a regulated water flow has prevented both climate extremes.

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