News / Africa

Ethiopia Offers Olive Branch in Nile Water Sharing Dispute

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

This is Part 5 of a 5-part series: Sharing the Nile's Waters
Parts 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Ethiopia is offering Egypt and Sudan an olive branch in their bitter dispute over sharing the waters of the Nile River. The offer includes possible joint ownership of a huge Ethiopian hydropower project that Egypt has tried to block.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi launched a furious attack Friday on powerful interests seeking to prevent construction of a 5,200-megawatt dam on the Blue Nile, in the highlands along the Sudanese border.

Meles says the massive project would allow Ethiopia to earn precious foreign exchange from electricity exports. But traditional funding sources have dried up, largely due to opposition from environmentalists, as well as from Egypt, which depends almost totally on the Nile for its water supply.

Speaking to the opening session of an international hydropower conference, Meles vowed the $4.8-billion project would go ahead, even if impoverished Ethiopia has to pay the tab itself.

“We are so convinced of the justice of our cause, so sure of the strength of our arguments, so convinced of the role of our hydropower projects in eliminating poverty in our country that we will use every ounce of our strength, every dime of money that we can save to complete our program,” Meles said.

The Ethiopian leader blasted donors and lending agencies that have withheld support for the project, calling their action unjust.

“We need the support of all our partners to build the dam as our savings are inadequate,” Meles added. “If our partners are deterred from doing so because of the noisy campaign of environmental extremists and some politicians with old-fashioned ideas, they will in effect be condemning millions of Africans to poverty. That cannot be just. That cannot be fair.”

In comments to reporters after his speech, the Ethiopian leader held out hope that the post-Mubarak administration in Cairo might soften Egypt’s longstanding opposition to upstream use of Nile water.

“I am still hopeful that the current government in Egypt will recognize that this project has nothing but benefits to Egypt,” said Meles. “Nothing. I believe the Sudanese understand this has nothing but benefits to them.”

Meles said a change of heart by Cairo’s new leaders could open the way for cooperative agreements, including a deal that would give Egypt partial ownership of the dam.
“If there is a reconsideration, there will be time to consider many issues, including possibly joint ownership of the project itself. We are open to such ideas," said Meles.

Egypt’s ambassador to Ethiopia Tariq Ghuneim told VOA his country is open to negotiations to reach an amicable solution to the Nile water dispute. He said he could not comment on Meles’s proposal because he had not seen details, but said any agreement would be a “win-win” for all.

Ethiopian officials were vague on when construction of the so-called Great Millennium Dam would begin, saying only it would be ‘soon’, and would be completed in less than four years from the start date. They say it would create a reservoir of water twice as large as Lake Tana, landlocked Ethiopia’s largest body of water, but would not displace any people because it would be contained in the existing river gorge.

The Horn of Africa nation is hoping to increase its electricity generation capacity to 15,000 megawatts within 10 years. The World Bank says Ethiopia has the second greatest hydropower potential in Africa, after the Democratic Republic of Congo.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs