Skip to comments.Ethiopia powers on with controversial dam project
Posted on 06/02/2012 9:26:55 AM PDT by JerseyanExile
The waters of the Blue Nile have for millennia flowed down from the Ethiopian highlands enriching the countries on its banks.
The rocks that make up its riverbed have been eroded by Ethiopia's past and now that the construction of Africa's largest hydro-electric dam has begun, these same rocks are helping to build the country's future.
The Grand Renaissance Dam project was announced last year by the Ethiopian government, in a unilateral move that is not sitting very well with its upstream neighbors. Egypt and Sudan say Ethiopia is threatening their greatest natural resource.
If construction stays on schedule the dam will be complete in six years. Ethiopia says the dam will generate 6,000 mega watts of electricity and it will sell a proportion of that to its neighbors and use the rest to fuel its own growth.
Semegnew Bekele is the Ethiopian engineer in charge of overseeing this mammoth project. He has worked on three other dams in Ethiopia, but this will be his and his country's first attempt at damming the Blue Nile.
Meeting Bekele, it becomes obvious that this project is a source of immense personal and national pride and in Ethiopia at least he has become a bit of a celebrity -- he regularly gets stopped in the street by people congratulation him on the dam and asking how it is progressing.
It might be a source of pride for Bekele and Ethiopia, but for Egypt and Sudan this project is deeply contentious.
Egypt with its population time bomb is particularly worried -- nearly 85% of its water originates in Ethiopia. Egyptians say they will not be held hostage over water, explains Yarcob Arsarno, who is an expert on hydro-politics at Addis Ababa University.
(Excerpt) Read more at edition.cnn.com ...
Ethiopia probably made a wise choice going with hydroelectricity. I once read a book on industrial development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one thing that was brought up was the fact that many of the poorer nations, such as Haiti, are reliant on oil-fired electric plants, which are extremely expensive to operate due to the fuel costs. This in turns keeps rates too high for electricity to be very affordable. Hydroelectric dams may have significant up front costs, but they are reliable, the fuel is virtually free, and the upkeep costs are extremely low.
I think Egypt and Sudan are downstream.
What you say is true - in many ways. Ethiopia is embarking on an amazing increase in electricity capacity. It will also be interesting to see what the reaction of (North) Sudan and Egypt is.
The author means downstream, of course. Nobody can write anymore.
That's because you, like most Amercians, don't have maps.
On a map they're up. :^)
Are you serious?
Great project with one possible drawback-Ethiopia is subject to severe droughts (including the Blue Nile)which will probably seriously impact water levels at this dam and its reservoir. Egypt and Sudan are right to be worried.
When completed in 2015, the Grand Millennium Dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa. It will also create the country's largest artificial lake, with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of watertwice the size of Lake Tana in Ethiopias Amhara region.
In late June, Ethiopia announced that it would build four additional dams on the Blue Nile that will work in conjunction with the Grand Millennium Dam to generate more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity.
Ethiopia has stated that it wants to become a major power hub for Africa by generating hydropower electricity that it can sell to its neighbors, and the country is in a unique position to succeed.
"They call Ethiopia the water tower of Africa," said climatologist Chris Funk of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). "If you look at an elevation map of the continent, it's all pretty low except for the Ethiopia highlands. So you have these big high mountains that get a ton of rainfall and so the potential for hydropower is pretty massive."
Whatever, it’s the byline that counts, not the content, and certainly most editors should be fired anyway.
The Nile flows north.
Canal the red sea over to Ethiopia, add in desalinization plants and start branching out throughout Africa.
Water, crops and economies... Gee, that would have an impact on global poverty.. Can’t have that now.
Were you under the impression Ethiopia is a low flatland?
Much of the country nearest the Red Sea is 5,000 foot elevation or higher.
Christian Ethiopia having a hold on the mooselimbs in Egypt and Sudan(N)...I like it ;)
I did not know that. Thank you for the geography lesson.
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