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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs