Ethiopia’s Nile dam project signals its intention to become an African power

The 4×4 roars off, kicking up a cloud of dust. With one hand on the wheel, the other stifling a yawn, Semegnew Bekele could do this trip with his eyes shut. A construction engineer, he has driven down this track at every hour of the day or night over the past three years. “Ordinary people are building an extraordinary project,” he says. He is referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (Gerd), in the north-west corner of the country close to the border with Sudan. Four hours away from the town of Assosa more than 8,500 workers and engineers are labouring on a massive project to harness the waters of the Blue Nile.

The countdown has already started for Bekele: he has three years left to complete this concrete colossus. “I don’t feel like a special person,” he says, “just an engineer leading the project.” True enough, the driving force behind the dam is former prime minister Meles Zenawi, who ran the country for more than two decades. He was obsessed with the country’s rebirth. The structure will be built, whatever the cost, he asserted, upon laying the first stone in April 2011. He died the following year. Continue reading

Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute

In the three years since construction began on the 1.8km Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam across the Blue Nile River, Egypt and Ethiopia have been engaged in a war of words over its potential impacts.

Ethiopia believes the massive dam will herald an era of prosperity, spurring growth and attracting foreign currency with the export of power to neighbouring countries. But Egypt has raised concerns about the downstream effects, as the Blue Nile supplies the Nile with about 85 percent of its water. Continue reading

Somaliland’s role in a potential military conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt

Tension is increasing as Ethiopia and Egypt continue to butt heads over the Nile River. Ethiopia remains firm on building the $4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Egypt is determined to stop Ethiopia from building the dam, claiming that Egypt is the “gift of the Nile” and water supply will decrease by 20% and hydroelectric power would decrease by 40%.

The battle over the Nile has already drawn neighboring countries into the dispute. Sudan and South Sudan have expressed their support for Ethiopia’s dam, while Somalia might show their allegiance to Egypt. Continue reading

Egyptian politicians: Sabotage Ethiopia’s new dam

CAIRO (AP) — Politicians meeting with Egypt’s president on Monday proposed hostile acts against Ethiopia, including backing rebels and carrying out sabotage, to stop it from building a massive dam on the Nile River upstream.

Some of the politicians appeared unaware the meeting with President Mohammed Morsi was being carried live on TV. Morsi did not directly react to the suggestions, but said in concluding remarks that Egypt respects Ethiopia and its people and will not engage in any aggressive acts against the East African nation. Continue reading