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Energy

The collision of the Blue Nile concerning power production

Egypt and Ethiopia are in a crash on the Blue Nile Renaissance Dam, the biggest hydraulic dam in Africa, over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Both nations have increased the tension and pushed the international political scene to the fore. The outcome was evident as Ethiopia departed from peace talks mediated by the United States at the end of February. Ethiopia initially asked for more period for discussion, but later issued a declaration that the US pressured them to make an agreement which was not in their investment. The Egyptians, who had hoped that the American-mediated talks would soon be resolved, were plummeted by Ethiopia’s discontinuation. 

The Arab League consequently gave funding to the conflict by seeking Ethiopia to honour Egypt’s sovereignty from over the Nile. The GERD’s reserves will maintain approximately 74bn cubic meters of water at a rate comparable a year and a half of the stream of the Blue Nile, a big sticking point among Ethiopia and Egypt. The move is equally significant. For seven years, Ethiopia needs to replenish the reservoirs while Egypt needs the duration in Ethiopia to be 12-21 years longer. The clock is running out for a deal with Ethiopia, which is preparing to begin refilling the reservoirs in July 2020. 

Throughout the uncompromising dispute, Ethiopia and Egypt must have proper preparation to create substantive changes to prevent a disastrous destabilization. The GERD mission, launched in 2011, is $5bn and will change Ethiopia. Upon fulfilment, approximately 16,000 GW of energy production is yet to change the power industry. Today, only 44% of families in Ethiopia have full rights to power, one quarter of whom depend on off-grid services.

Egypt, a wasteland country which depends mainly on the Nile for its natural water requirements, is seriously challenged by GERD regardless of its advantages offered to Ethiopia. Ethiopia, unlike Egypt and Sudan, has constrained water and cultivable land and is highly improbable to utilize the river for water-based farming. Nevertheless, it is committed to developing its hydropower production capability in the Nile Basin. As some analysts claim that 84 percent of the Nile freshwater that enters Egypt comes from Ethiopia, Egypt’s water availability is reasonably feared.

Expanding the GERD fitting cycle to more than 12 years will contribute to Ethiopia’s substantial financial damage. The intangible value of GERD for international economic and trade growth should be taken up by Egypt and Ethiopia. Ethiopia has little oil or natural reserves but has a considerable power generation capability of nearly 45,000 GW. The above enables it to distribute energy to regions linked to the energy pool in Eastern Africa.