Ethiopia can’t afford to build the Nile Dam : The Economist

Nile-basin-countries-map

Egypt and Ethiopia quarrel over water

MOST of the water meandering down the lower reaches of the Nile, the world’s longest river, comes from the Ethiopian highlands, putting rulers in Addis Ababa, the capital, in a position of unusual power, one they have rarely dared to exploit. But since Egypt, the biggest and most influential consumer of Nile water, is distracted by revolutionary upheaval at home, this may be changing. Ethiopia and the other upstream countries—Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—have banded together to rewrite a 1959 treaty that favours Egypt.Nile-basin-countries-map

They may succeed. After decades of strong population growth, Ethiopia has overtaken Egypt as Africa’s second-most-numerous nation. The total population of the upstream countries is 240m against 130m for the downstream duo of Egypt (85m) and Sudan (45m), whose 14m southerners will soon be independent and are being courted by both sides.

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Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, is determined to dam his bit of the Nile. On April 2nd he laid the foundation for the Grand Millennium Dam. With a planned hydropower capacity of 5.25 gigawatts and a flooded canyon twice as voluminous as the country’s largest lake, it is the centrepiece of a plan to increase the country’s electricity supply fivefold by 2015.

Mr Meles insists that Egypt will also benefit from the dam, saying it is being offered the chance to buy cheaper power. But he hardly exudes goodwill, accusing Egyptians of trying to undermine Ethiopia’s search for funds to build the thing. In any event, says Mr Meles, Ethiopia will push ahead, using “every ounce of our strength, every penny we can save, to complete our programme.”

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How will Ethiopia pay? Chinese banks are apparently underwriting the cost of turbines and other electrical equipment. That still leaves one of the poorest countries in the world a good $3 billion short. Some engineers think the cost will exceed $4.8 billion. Ethiopians are being urged to subscribe to a bond issue on patriotic grounds. But it is unlikely to generate more than a fraction of the required amount. Neither the World Bank nor private investors are willing to put up the cash, since Ethiopia has failed to create partnerships with power companies in neighbouring countries to which it could sell electricity. The Nile’s geology may be favourable for dam building, but the flow of money is not.

from the print edition | Middle East & Africa

Source: The Economis


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14 Comments

  1. I miss the days when The Economist and the likes being the only source of information .The Internet pretty much leveled the field. RIP The Economist. They used to be relevant. Now they can’t even find their as$ with both their hands. Pathetic.

  2. This is a bitter truth. Some people they think they can use such big public issue for their politics. We are witnessing a useless tactic of diverting people attention from the real problems such as Poverty, Jobless, rising food price and the uprising of people against the ruling regime.
    Nile dam, Egypt, change Eritrean government….. what is next?

  3. This is a very pessimistic opinion we will do it, we Ethiopian can do even more… trust me we will do it

  4. @Henok it is good being optimist for things but this is not 4.8 million birr brother. 4.8 billion dollars is a lot of money and at the current sitiaion of the country it’s unthinkable to get that amount from selling bonds. I guess this is another exaggrated plan as the 5 year transformation bla bla plan.

  5. we are more than 80 Million . All we need is less than one birr per day from all of us for the next five years. We have defeated the Italian warrior twice, practically with nothing all we had was our courage and stamina

  6. Mr. Dagne trust me no matter the writer is egyptian or a tail of it, we will read in the same magazine soon “the economist” an appology for their bullshit speculation. Don’t you remember about the case “donation money was spent for purchase of armament” told by BBC and requested an appology from BBC as well.

    And it is not bad being a pesimist Mr. Dagne! It does not mean we should all contribute money only. If you are an ethiopian, put aside your ego, spent your time energy, go and work for it, tell people how great we are, how we love our country. We will do it. It is not far.

  7. We can build the dam no one can stop as we build in our money we don’t need help.

  8. No one can stop us from our vision .We can build even more high capacity Dams from what we implemented shortly which are necessary to our grouth .

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