Ethiopia won’t stop Blue Nile Dam project, welcomes dialogue with Cairo

Ethiopia says the Nile Dam project poses no threat to Egypt water supply.

The Ethiopian Government said it would not halt the on-going Renaissance Dam Project on the disputed Nile river “for a single second” due to pressure and war threats from Egypt.

The Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister, Tedros Adhanom, who stated this on Wednesday at a news conference in Addis Ababa, said that the comments and war threats from Egyptian politicians would not stop the project.

“The recent comments and threats by Egyptian politicians have not been helpful to the win-win relations between Ethiopia and Egypt,’’ he said.

Egypt had threatened to go to war if Ethiopia continues with the dam project, claiming that the Blue Nile is its “historic rights” according to two treaties in 1929 and 1959, which allowed it 87 per cent of the Nile’s flow and gave it veto power over upstream projects.

Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, said on Monday on live Television broadcast that “all options are open” in response to Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile tributary, and that Egypt would not forfeit even a drop of the Nile water to Ethiopia.

However, a new deal signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia and Sudan allowed them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

The Ethiopian Foreign ministry spokesperson, Dina Mufti, in a statement expressed his government’s concern over the recent reactions from Egypt on Nile River dam project, but added that the country “is ever ready for dialogue”.

Mufti also stressed that the project would not stop.

He said that the Ethiopian Government was disturbed by the propaganda emanating from some Egyptian politicians who “are trying to incite violence in connection with the recent diversion of the Abay river where Ethiopia is building the biggest dam in Africa.’’

Mr. Mufti reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to establishing a win-win relations with countries like Egypt “as Ethiopia recognises it can very much benefit in cooperation than in hostility.’’

“Recently Egyptian politicians have embarked showing the Renaissance Dam construction by Ethiopia in negative light as if it is a national threat to Egyptian people.

“Some politicians in Egypt have even suggested sabotage to discourage Ethiopia from building the dam and if this option fails they want to attack the dam and the country through every available avenue.

“Following these disturbing developments in Cairo, Egyptian Ambassador to Addis Ababa has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify its government standing on these new developments,” Mr. Mufti said.

He said Ethiopia had so far preferred to leave the comments and the recent Egyptian threats aside hoping they would be corrected with time.

“Yet the developments over the last couple of days show no sign of abetting in terms of halting such inciting comments on the part of Egyptian politicians.’’

He said Ethiopia remained honest in its relations with Egypt seeking to promote cooperation between the people of Ethiopia and Egypt.

The spokesperson also said threat of war from Egypt had no place in the 21st century and urged Cairo to work on other means of resolving the seeming conflict.

Ethiopia last month began diverting the Blue Nile a short distance from its natural course for the construction of the dam and assured its neighbours downstream that water levels would not be affected.

A study by international experts on the dam’s impact on the river had been submitted to Egypt and Sudan, which also rely on the Nile water resources. Sudan had, however, issued a statement supporting Ethiopia on the hydro-electric project.

Egypt, however, had dismissed the study’s findings, which minimised the dam’s impact and called for further assessments.

Ethiopia said it would go ahead with construction of the 4.2 billion dollar project, which is expected to have a capacity of 6000 MW when completed.

The Egyptian foreign minister is scheduled to visit Ethiopia on June 16 for talks on how to resolve the conflict.

The first phase of the Grand Renaissance dam is expected to be completed in 2016 and would generate 700 MW of electricity, making it Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Ethiopian Government said.

Ethiopia said it would export electricity from the dam to neighbouring Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya and is funding the massive project on its own.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to form the Nile, which flows through Egypt.


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