Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sudan, Ethiopia in cross-border power link

Khartoum - Sudan and Ethiopia on Wednesday were to inaugurate a cross-border electricity link which an analyst said aims to strengthen Khartoum-Addis Ababa ties as tensions persist with Egypt over a giant dam.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn would attend the ceremony in Sudan's eastern Gedaref city, the official SUNA news agency reported.

A 321km line has been completed at a cost of $35m between the Gedaref power station and Ethiopia's Amhara state, SUNA reported.

The line has a capacity of 300 MW but Sudan will initially buy 100 MW, SUNA said.

Desalegn arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart President Omar al-Bashir as part of a wider routine dialogue between officials of the neighbouring countries.

Although they are discussing a range of issues over two days, Safwat Fanous, a University of Khartoum political scientist, said the electricity link is the most significant.

"Ethiopia wants to appeal and neutralise Sudan" over the dam which Cairo fears could diminish its water supply, Fanous said.

Sudan has said it does not expect to be affected by the Grand Renaissance Dam development, but Fanous said Addis Ababa wants to be sure "to take Sudan on board".

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May to build the 6 000 MW hydro project which will be Africa's largest when completed in 2017.

Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile's flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.