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Nile dam dispute tackled by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia

Egypt has frequently opposed projects that block the flow of the Nile [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 March, 2015

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The trio of nations are completing talks in Khartoum to settle a dispute about Addis Ababa's Renaissance Dam project on the Nile, which is opposed by Egypt.
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia wrap up talks today which aimed to resolve a dispute over a hydro-electric dam being built by Addis Ababa on the River Nile.

It was "a crucial and definitive meeting on a global solution to this issue about the dam," said Sudanese Water Resources and Electricity Minister Muattaz Musa Abdallah Salim.

His Egyptian counterpart, Hussein al-Mughazi, stressed that Egypt was in a "special situation because it depends totally on the waters of the Nile".

Egypt fears that Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project will diminish its water supply, which is also vital to Sudan.

Upon completion by 2017, the dam will have electricity generating capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

Currently the power plant project, which will be Africa's largest, is 36 percent complete. It will take the east African nation up to six years to fill the dam's 74 billion cubic-metre reservoir - about twice the size of Utah's famous Great Salt Lake.

Despite two previous tripartite meetings late last year ending without agreement, Ethiopian Water Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said the dam project would not have major consequences for Egypt and Sudan downstream.

Egypt has frequently expressed its opposition to any project that might disrupt the flow of the Nile.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile at Khartoum to form the River Nile, which flows through Sudan and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2014 to build the dam. Ethiopian officials have said the project to construct the 1,780-metre-long and 145-metre high dam will cost $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euros).

Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile's flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

Most other Nile Basin countries contest this.

A new deal signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allows them to work on river projects without Cairo's prior agreement.

In protest against the 2010 pact, Cairo withdrew from the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a forum for the riparian countries to discuss joint management and development of the region's resources.

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