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)
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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More