Ethiopia’s Millennium Dam will not harm Egypt or Sudan, says official

An Ethiopian official dismissed on Monday claims that the country’s proposed Millennium Dam would negatively impact Egypt and Sudan, saying that both countries would benefit from the project.

Alemayehu Tajno, Ethiopia's Minister of Water and Energy, told a Sudanese newspaper on Monday that the huge dam would curb soil erosion and maintain the flow of water without any being wasted.

Doubts surfaced in Egypt following the Ethiopian announcement of its plan to built the Millennium Dam, fearing that the dam would affect Egypt’s historical share of Nile water.

Under a 1929 treaty, Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic meters a year of the Nile's flow of around 84 billion cubic meters. According to the treaty, any country wishing to establish any agrarian project should first seek Egyptian approval.  

Work on the 5,250 megawatt (MW) Renaissance Dam – which will be one of the world's ten biggest – began in April, with Italy's Salini Costruttori overseeing the construction work with a budget of US$4.78 billion. Ethiopia plans to fund the project on its own.

However, Ethiopia didn’t inform Egypt of the dam's construction, and continues its efforts to push for the ratification of a new treaty that would strip Egypt of its lion's share of Nile River waters and the veto power it holds over dam projects in the upriver countries.

Egypt, threatened by rising temperatures and a growing population (around 81 million at present), is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for its water.

Tajno said that Sudan will benefit most from the Millennium Dam due to its closeness to the border.  

He added that Sudan’s experience in building dams would be one of the main areas of future cooperation between the two countries.

Tajno, who has been on a visit to Sudan since Sunday, went on to say that the dam will stor an annual 62 billion cubic meters of water and produce 5250 megawatts of energy. He pointed out that the dam will not be used to irrigate agricultural land, and that its primary function is to produce electricity.

Tajno listed the benefits Egypt and Sudan would gain from the Millennium Dam, which include the protection of Sudan and Egypt from the risk of flooding, reducing evaporation rates and regulating river flow throughout the year.

He pointed out that a committee of local and international experts from the three countries would be formed to review the data and ensure the three countries achieve the maximum benefit from the dam.

Tajno said that Ethiopia’s main goal is mutual benefit for all parties, besides equality in the utilization of water resources for all countries.

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