Ethiopia has firmly rejected a proposal by Egypt to operate a $4 billion hydropower dam on the Nile, further deepening a dispute between the two nations over the massive billion project.
Speaking in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Sileshi Bekele, the country’s water minister described Egypt’s plan, including the volume of water it wants the dam to release annually, as “inappropriate.”
“The proposal from Egypt was unilaterally decided…(it) didn’t consider our previous agreements,” he said.
“We can’t agree with this… we will prepare our counter proposal.”
Egypt said Ethiopia had “summarily rejected” its plan for key aspects of the operation while claiming Ethiopia’s overtures were “unfair and inequitable.”
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), announced in 2011, is designed to be the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, seeking to generate more than 6,000 megawatts.
Cairo and Addis Ababa are at odds over the annual flow of water that should be guaranteed to Egypt and how to manage flows during droughts.
Egyptians relies on the Nile for 90% of its fresh water and it wants the GERD’s reservoir to release a higher volume of water than Ethiopia is willing to guarantee, among other disagreements.
“An Egyptian expert can’t control our dam,” Sileshi said, further charging that the Egyptian plan is a potential violation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
Sileshi did not say how much water Ethiopia wants to release, but Egypt wants the dam to release a minimum of 40 billion cubic metres of water from the GERD annually.
The Irrigation Ministry in Cairo confirmed that a meeting, mediated by an independent scientific group, would convene in the Sudanese capital Khartoum from September 30 to October 3 to further discuss the issue.
Ethiopia has said GERD will start power production by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.
Additional reporting by Reuters, DW