Monday, July 1, 2013
Ethiopia’s Nile dam cuts Sudan’s expenditure on siltation
In a high-level symposium held on Friday at Addis Ababa University researchers said Ethiopia’s massive dam, which is just 30km from the Sudanese border, will highly reduce the quantity of silt that accumulates in Sudan, enabling Khartoum to save annually up to $20 million.
Yilma Seleshi a representative from the Ethiopian Water Resource Institute said that the dam will also reduce the frequent floods that affect people and infrastructure on the banks of the Blue Nile.
Khartoum, Sudan’s capital is where the Blue Nile meets the longer but slower moving White Nile that has travelled north through Uganda and South Sudan.
Egypt has expressed concerns over Ethiopia’s dam building programmes but Seleshi said that the GERD will benefit downstream countries in terms of reducing sedimentation and evaporation without diminishing the amount of water that flows to the countries.
Addis Ababa University President, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye, said such symposiums will enable uncertainties, confusion and doubts raised by concerned groups with regard to the dam project to be cleared up.
“It will contribute to creating mutual understanding and trust among upper and lower riparian countries. These two things are decisive to collaboratively work towards reaping shared benefits from the construction of the GERD,” he said.
The symposium titled "Opportunities for Regional Development" brought together over 300 scholars, Ethiopian and foreign researchers, government officials diplomats and representatives from development partners.
Researchers presented some 12 papers on subjects including dam safety, geological hazards, environmental dimensions of the Nile’s water, development and regional integration.
One of the participants, Solomon Belay, who is a hydro-geologist and researcher told Sudan Tribune that hydro-solidarity must be a binding rule between lower and upper riparian countries with regard to Nile water resources.
Citing the recent strong rhetoric by some Egyptian leaders, Belay added that Egypt must end its historical hegemony over the Nile’s water and start to cooperate with others so all riparian countries will have equitable access to the Nile’s water.
Many country’s in the Nile basin argue that a fairer distribution of the Nile’s water would enable them to execute developmental projects that will help lift their people from poverty.
A pre-colonial era treaty has given Egypt 80% of the Nile’s water resources, allowing the North African country a veto against any project by another country.
When asked about concerns large parts of Sudan would be flooded if the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam collapses, another researcher, Girma Abate told Sudan Tribune that the tripartite panel of international experts, which had been assessing on the dam’s impact, have given assurances that the power plant project meets international standards.
He added the construction site - in Ethiopia’s Benshangul Gumuz - is safe from earthquake concerns.
When completed, the $4.8 billion Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam will have a power generating capacity of 6000 MW. Ethiopia says the move to harness the river aims to curb poverty by exporting hydro-electricity.
Ethiopia could earn up to 2 million euros a day by selling electricity to neighboring countries.
Currently the East African nation is exporting electricity to Sudan and Djibouti.
After assessing the Nile dam impacts for over a year a panel of international experts recently released its final report concluding that the dam poses no significant harm to downstream countries.
The report revealed that the dam brings benefits to Egypt and Sudan by protecting them from flooding, reducing sedimentation, enabling irrigation expansion, boosting water use efficiency and providing them with cheap and clean energy.