Reports have emerged of a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in relation to the Grand Renaissance Dam.
Ethiopia’s flagship dam on the Nile will power the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa at 6,450 MW, making it the 7th largest in the world. This will solve Ethopia’s energy challenges in one go and enable it to export energy to neighbouring countries. Currently 65% of its population are not connected to the grid.
Ethiopia started building the dam without consulting Egypt. It refused to be bound by the 1929 treaty that gave Egypt and Sudan rights to almost all the Nile's water without considering upstream countries. In March 2015 the three countries signed a “Declaration of Principles”. One of the principles is “Do no harm”.
The dam itself is now 80% complete. But the point of contention is the filling of the dam which will affect all those downstream. Ethiopia has been sticking with a 6 year period. Egypt is saying that it wants it to be between 10 and 21 years.
A final agreement is expected at the end of January with the US treasury secretary and the World Bank president brokering the agreement.
Whatever agreement is reached, Ethiopia’s ability to control the Nile’s waters is likely to remain contentious for Egypt for many years to come. Both countries would do well to ensure that they manage their distribution networks smartly to minimise real losses. In the case of Egypt as self-protection. In the case of Ethiopia to ensure that they can’t be accused of wasting precious resource.