Ethiopia’ Hydropower Dam is threatening Egypt’s water supply

The Nile river is Egypt’s main source of freshwater, supplying 56.8 billion cubic meters of freshwater every year, which represents 97% of all renewable water resources in the country.

Amid water shortage fears, Egypt denounced Ethiopia’s attempt to moving forward with the construction of an hydropower dam on the Nile, according to an article by Reuters.

The project called “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam”, formerly known as the Millenium Dam, is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia that has been under construction since 2011. It is estimated to have an installed capacity of 6.45 GW, being the 7th largest dam in the world and the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.

Already at 60% completion, the dam is creating political tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia as fears on water restriction, already on a scarce supply, increase.

It has long been said that without the Nile River, there is no Egypt. With the dam due in 2020, the Egyptian government predicts that its freshwater lifeline could slow by as much as 25%.

Bloomberg also reported under a conflicting title that “Death on the Nile haunts Ethiopia’s rebirth”. As the grand name suggest, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the Renaissance Dam to Ethiopia. Once the dam’s 16 turbines are  switched on, the 6.45 GW facility will increase the country’s supply of electricity by as much as 150%.

Nature Magazine says that ultimately there is little Egypt can do, and that policymakers in Cairo will have to adjust to the decreased level of water in the Nile during the dam’s filling period. Nevertheless, it supports Egypt’s fears on facing water scarcity in dry years or those with reduced rainfall.

Sources: Nature, Bloomberg, Reuters

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