Grand Renaissance Dam
Ethiopia needs to reassure Egypt that the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam won’t affect their water security.

In East Africa, Egypt has raised concerns that the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which will be located along the Nile River, could threaten their water security.

The North African country is concerned that the dam will be utilised for irrigation in Ethiopia, resulting in diminished downstream supply. However, Ethiopia maintains that there are no other agendas except to generate power, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Two turbines to be installed

According to the Sudan Tribune, Ethiopia is expected to engage in talks with Egypt and Sudan to decide the amount of water the dam reservoir should stock before it launches its first phase of power generation.

However, an undisclosed government official from the Ethiopia Electric and Power Corporation told local media that the project is “soon predicted to start generating 750MW of electricity”, because two turbines are planned for the installation in the coming weeks.

So far Ethiopia is reported to have ordered a total of 16 turbines from international companies. The massive hydro power plant project is anticipated to generate 6,000MW of electricity upon completion.

Halt Grand Renaissance Dam construction

Meanwhile, Girma Fikru, a water resources engineer in Addis Ababa said the move for Ethiopia to go ahead while engaged in talks is not wise.

“Ethiopia’s move to start generating power in the middle of the ongoing tripartite meetings on GERD could risk collapse of the negotiations and might trigger a renewed dispute over the Nile water resources,” he said.

He emphasised that Ethiopia should focus on building trust with Egypt over water supply concerns, before putting the dam into operation and generating power.

According to the media, the $4.2 billion project, which has already used up about $2.2 million has made progress as it is reported that about 4 million cubic meters of concrete has so far been poured for the 1,780m long and 145m high dam.

Additionally, Debretsion Gebremichael, deputy prime minister for finance and economic cluster and minister of communication and information technology, has reassured that the government has no financial constraints and construction is on track for completion in July 2017.