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The Nile Dam Chaos

Here we are talking about the Grand Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building, will be Africa's biggest hydroelectric power plant once completed.


Construction of the dam on the Blue Nile tributary in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia started in 2011, which account for 85% of Nile's water flow.


However, Egypt and Ethiopia have been forced into political rows due to the Mega Dam, while Sudan has been trapped between them. Rumours are that this political standoff could even lead to an armed conflict, and the United States is helping to mediate between the two countries so that situation doesn’t lead to that.


But what is the problem?


Plans to fill up the mega dam are the main cause of the conflict, as Egypt fears the project would allow Ethiopia to regulate the flow of the longest river in Africa.

Hydroelectric power stations do not absorb water, but the speed at which the dam's reservoir is filled up by Ethiopia can influence the downstream flow.

The more time Ethiopia takes to fill the reservoir, (which is going to be larger than Greater London with a cumulative capacity of 74 billion cubic metres), the less impact there will be on the river table.

Ethiopia’s target? Six Years.

But Egypt has proposed a longer period - so that the level of the river does not dramatically drop, especially in the initial phase of filling the reservoir.

Three-way talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over operating the dam and filling its reservoir have made no progress in more four years - which the US has now been trying to mediate.

But why are we bringing it up again now?

The negotiation session held Aug 28 between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under the auspices of the African Union (AU) ended amid failure to reach a unified draft that includes each of the country’s proposals. It fell short of agreeing on a satisfactory and binding solution for all parties.

But that is not all.

The commander of the Ethiopian air force, Gen. Yilma Mardasa, on Oct. 2, has issued a press statement saying the Ethiopian air force has the ability to secure and defend the dam.

Ethiopia is not backing off.

The administration of President Donald Trump is denying Ethiopia up to $130 million of financial aid after its unilateral decision to start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Its move has been perceived by Ethiopia as a neocolonial intervention to impose a biased agreement in favor of Egypt. China invested $1.2 billion into the project — nearly one-quarter of the total cost — and Ethiopia may try to play China and the United States off of each other for support.

This has led to serious troubles and talks among the African leaders regarding a possible armed conflict. Even US mediation was called out to be biased. No one knows what is to be expected in the future, yet critics are of the opinion that the crisis even if leads to a standoff, won’t cause a war as both countries wouldn’t want to strain their economies any further.


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