Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan Set up Commission to Assess Nile Dam Project

Ethiopia's millennium dam
Ethiopia’s grand millennium dam

A tripartite commission, established by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will meet on 8 October 2012 in Addis Ababa to discuss the impact of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam on the three other countries.

Ethiopia is building the $5 billion Nile dam, but other countries upstream of the river fear this could have an impact on water levels.

Egypt has raised concern about the dam, since last year, saying it depended on the Nile River for much of its socio-economic activities.

The commission, established after Egypt raised alarm, will discuss the effects of the Ethiopian on both Egypt and Sudan.

However, Ethiopia maintains that the dam over the Nile River will not affect either Egypt or Sudan.

Meles Zenawi, the late Ethiopian leader, at the inauguration of the dam said Ethiopia would not cease construction, as the project had no effect on the other states.

In April 2010, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya signed the Entebbe agreement, which stipulated the redistribution of Nile’s water.

Egypt and Sudan boycotted the talks, with Egypt saying the agreement was non-binding. But the inclusion of Burundi meant that the majority of countries on the Nile water course had assented to the agreement despite Egypt’s protest.

Ethiopia proceeded to launch the Renaissance Dam project after the agreement.

Egypt, whose economy is highly dependent on agriculture and the Nile, has said on a number of occasions that it will not accept an agreement about water redistribution that does not guarantee its historical rights.

According to a colonial-era agreement signed with Sudan in 1959, Egypt’s share of Nile water is estimated at 51 billion square meters annually, while Sudan’s share is estimated at 18 billion square meters, giving the two countries over 90% of the Nile’s water, even though Egypt contributes none of the Nile waters.

Ethiopia says it contributes to more than 80 percent the Nile’s water.

Meanwhile, representatives of Egypt and Sudan are expected to visit the dam’s site along alongside experts undertaking studies on the effects of the dam’s construction on Egypt and Sudan.

The dam, claimed to be the biggest in Africa, is expected to start hydro-electric power generation within two years.

The project will see Ethiopia supplying power to neighboring countries, especially to Kenya and Sudan. It has already started exporting power to Djibouti.