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Egypt-Ethiopia row over River Nile dam
- Written by ibro

(CRN)14 NOV 2O19 Ethiopia is building the Grand Renaissance Dam, which when completed next year, will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant.

Its construction began in 2011 on the Blue Nile tributary in the northern Ethiopia highlands from where 85% of the Nile’s waters flow.

However, the mega dam has caused a row between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Sudan caught in between, which the US is now helping to mediate.

Why is it contentious?

At the centre of the dispute are plans to fill up the mega dam as Egypt fears the project will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river.

Hydroelectric power stations do not consume water, but the speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam’s reservoir will affect the flow downstream.

The longer it takes to fill the reservoir, which is going to be bigger than Greater London, the less impact there will be on the level of the river.Ethiopia wants to do it in six years.

“We have a plan to start filling on the next rainy season, and we will start generating power with two turbines on December 2020,” Ethiopia’s Water Minister Seleshi Bekele said in September.

But Egypt has proposed a 10-year period – this will mean 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 four years – and now the US is trying to mediate.

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