By Barry Malone
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia on Wednesday said it planned to build a huge dam on the Nile despite a long-running row with Egypt over use of the river and concern the dispute may spark a war.
The nine countries through which the river passes have for more than a decade been locked in often bitter talks to renegotiate colonial-era treaties that gave Egypt and Sudan the lion’s share of the river’s waters.
However, six of the nine upstream countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi — have signed a new deal stripping Egypt of its veto and agreeing to renegotiate how much water each country is entitled to.
“The Great Nile dam construction is scheduled to commence presently near the Ethio-Sudan border,” Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu told a news conference. “From this dam alone, Ethiopia expects to generate 5,250MW.”
The Horn of Africa nation aims to produce 15,000 megawatts (MW) of power within 10 years, part of a plan to spend $12 billion over 25 years to improve the country’s power-generating capability.
Alemayehu said Ethiopia would be forced to finance the $4.78 billion dam from its own coffers and from the sale of government bonds because Egypt was pressuring donor countries and international lenders not to fund its dam projects.
POINT OF NO RETURN
“Those bent on deterring the development of the Nile have not yet changed their obstructionist ways. Alas, Ethiopia’s resolve has now reached a point of no return,” Alemayehu said.