News / Africa

Egypt Fears Diversion of Nile Waters for a New Dam

Nile River in the fashionable suburb of Maadi in Cairo, Egypt (VOA's D. Bekheet)Nile River in the fashionable suburb of Maadi in Cairo, Egypt (VOA's D. Bekheet)
x
Nile River in the fashionable suburb of Maadi in Cairo, Egypt (VOA's D. Bekheet)
Nile River in the fashionable suburb of Maadi in Cairo, Egypt (VOA's D. Bekheet)
TEXT SIZE - +
Peter Heinlein
— Egypt is expressing concern at Ethiopia’s move to divert water from the Nile River to allow construction of a massive hydroelectric dam.

Egypt’s cabinet met Wednesday to discuss Ethiopia’s announcement that it was diverting the flow of the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the river.

The meeting came a day after Ethiopian officials said the water would be diverted to make way for construction of a nearly $5 billion dam.  The hydropower facility will be the largest in Africa, producing as much electricity as six nuclear power plants.  It is scheduled for completion in 2017.

A statement carried by Egypt’s state run MENA news agency said construction measures already in progress do not reflect any approval by Cairo to build the dam.

Egypt’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idriss, says his country is not surprised by the diversion.  It had been expected, he says.  But he suggested the unilateral announcement was premature, coming days before a panel of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia releases a long-awaited study on the impact of the dam.

“These are technical issues and you cannot just give judgmental or impressionistic view on these implications.  That’s why the three countries formed this panel of experts which include a national expert and international experts of high reputation, and this panel is almost completing its work is entrusted with making this scientific assessment of the implications on Egypt and Sudan and based on the report of this panel, the three countries will decide on how to proceed on this matter,” Idriss said.

Ethiopian officials this week sought to assure the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, that the 550 meter diversion or shifting of the river from its natural course would not mean any loss of water, and could be a boon to future regional energy needs.   Ethiopian officials emphasized that water levels would not be affected by the diversion.

But Ambassador Idriss said Egypt’s almost total dependence on the Nile for its water supply makes any potential disruption a national security issue.

“The Nile for us is not just a river.  It is the only source of life in Egypt.  So any impact on the water reaching Egypt is going to affect Egyptian water security and the life of the Egyptian people, and this is of great concern,” Idriss said.

The envoy said Egypt and Sudan will insist on being a party to any decisions that will affect the river’s flow.

“The important issue is how the three countries will set the course for moving forward on the project based on the agreed principle of shared benefit and no harm and win-win.  The Egyptian side insists on fully abiding by these principles and these commitments,” Idriss said.

Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Debretsion Gebremichael this week said the Renaissance Dam could begin producing electricity as early as next year.  Responding to the concerns of the downstream countries, he told the Bloomberg news agency, “This is an international river and we will try our best to accommodate their interests."

The Blue Nile originates high in the mountains of Ethiopia.  It provides 85 percent of Nile's water, joining with the White Nile at the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where it flows north to the Mediterranean Sea.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid