Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agree on Grand Renaissance dam project

Grand-Ethiopian-Renaissance-Dam-GERD (1)
Construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam GERD

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have signed an agreement in relation to construction of Grand Renaissance dam, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi saying the project will not affect Egypt as feared before. The new signing is expected to be an assurance to Egypt and Sudan that the dam project will be undertaken carefully while putting their interests at heart.

The new signed accord will however see Ethiopia undertake construction of the dam without harming Egypt and Sudan. Egypt has been heavily reliant on River Nile for agriculture and has previously protested construction of the dam fearing that the project would reduce volume of water downstream.

The project would entail diversion of the Nile to source water for electricity production in Ethiopia. The 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance dam, which is expected to be completed in 2017, will be Africa’s largest dam. Phase 1 of the dam project was, however, expected to come online this year to see production of 700MW. The project will take a spend of US$5bn.

The leaders watched a film on how the project could benefit their countries. “I confirm the construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam will not cause any damage to our three states and especially to the Egyptian people,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian prime minister, at the signing ceremony held in Khartoum, Sudan, also attended by Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.

“We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.” Said Al Sisi, adding that it will not harm interests of Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia also said the river would be diverted but will later follow its course.

Al-Bashir, who was also present at the signing ceremony, said the deal was historic. The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance dam will be 170 meter tall and will help reduce alluvium in Sudan and manage flooding at 19,370 cubic metres per second. 16 units each with a generating capacity of 375MW will be installed and two 3,750MW and 2,250MW outdoor power stations constructed.

The project will also establish a bridge across the Blue Nile and provide water for irrigating 500,000ha of new agricultural lands. The project is being undertaken by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO).

Ethiopia is planning a spend of US$ 20bn for power generation projects between 2015-2020 as part of the Phase II of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This is according to last year’s (November) announcement in the Powering Africa: Ethiopia event.

Apart from the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam, the country has invested in expansion of Ashegoda Wind Farm to add 40MW into the grid, a project expected to end in 2015. On December, Ethiopia leashed out a US$1bn sovereign bond to help finance construction and energy projects.

Other projects such as Adama II wind power generating farm, Gilgel Gibe III Hydroelectric dam, which is expected to go online this year according to earlier reports this April. A Chinese firm will also undertake construction of a US$700m Gebba River Dam. Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya have also set out plans to construct a dam on River Dawa in Mandera County, Kenya.

Implementation of the hydraulic and environmental studies relating to the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam project will now be supervised by oversees firms.

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