Ethiopia To Go On Filling Nile Mega-Dam Despite Impasse

 
 
 
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the Biggest Hydro-Electric Project in Africa.

Ethiopia said recently it would not be deterred from impounding water at its Nile mega-dam, despite a persistent impasse with downstream countries worried about their water supply.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011.

Downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Ethiopia considers it essential for its electrification and development. The latest round of talks concluded recently  in Kinshasa with no resolution to long-running disputes over how the dam will be operated.

But Ethiopian water minister Seleshi Bekele told a press conference recently  that Ethiopia would continue filling the dam’s massive reservoir during the upcoming rainy season, which normally begins in June or July.

“As construction progresses, filling takes place,” Seleshi said.”We don’t deviate from that at all.”

The reservoir has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters. Filling began last year, with Ethiopia announcing in July 2020 it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters—enough to test the dam’s first two turbines, an important milestone on the way towards actually producing energy.

The goal is to impound an additional 13.5 billion cubic metres this year.

Egypt and Sudan wanted a trilateral agreement on the dam’s operations to be reached before reservoir filling began.

But Ethiopia says filling is a natural part of the dam’s construction, and is thus impossible to postpone.

Last year Sudan said the filling process caused water shortages including in the capital Khartoum.

Seleshi disputed this Wednesday but said Ethiopia had offered to share data with Sudan during filling this year, adding that officials “don’t want to be made accountable for problems that we haven’t created.”

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Trouble in Uganda?

Three months after Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, won a sixth five-year term in office in the most fiercely contested election in years, his government appears to be intent on breaking the back of the political opposition.

The president of Uganda, a strategically located country in East Africa, is a longtime U.S. military ally and major recipient of American aid.

His principal challenger, Bobi Wine, a magnetic musician-turned-lawmaker who galvanized youthful crowds of supporters, is now largely confined to his house in Kampala.

Mr. Wine’s party said on Friday that 623 members, supporters and elected officials have been seized from the streets and arrested in recent weeks, many of them tortured.