I’m not sure how I missed the controversy surrounding the dam that’s under construction on Africa’s Blue Nile River, but I’ve caught up to speed.
Formerly known as the Millennium Dam, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is currently being built in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile River. The project began in April 2011, and it’s owned by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO). Although their government is funding the dam, it will not only serve Ethiopia but Sudan and Egypt as well. All three countries are dependent on the Nile River for their water supply.
The dam, aimed to generate power, will be capable of handling a flood of 19,370 cubic metres per second, will reduce alluvium in Sudan by 100 million cubic metres, and will facilitate irrigation of around 500,000ha of new agricultural lands. The regulated flow of water from the dam will also help with water conservation by impacting the evaporation of water.
That was the good news, now on to the dispute.
Egypt relies on the Blue Nile River for 90% of its water, and the country is concerned that supplies could get cut off after the dam’s construction. Sudan is farther upstream than Egypt, but water shortages could become an issue there as well. But Ethiopia argues that they need the dam for its economic development, and once this $4bn (£3bn) project is complete, the dam will be Africa’s largest hydro-electric project.
In an attempt to mediate this dispute, the Trump administration has decided to cut financial aid from Ethiopia. According to Foreign Policy, this decision could affect up to $130 million in U.S. foreign assistance to the East African country and fuel tensions between Washington and Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The following was advised:
Programs that are on the chopping block include security assistance, counterterrorism and military education and training, anti-human trafficking programs, and broader development assistance funding, officials and congressional aides said. The cuts would not impact U.S. funding for emergency humanitarian relief, food assistance, or health programs aimed at addressing COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS.
Ethiopian officials believe that the Trump administration is siding with Egypt since President Trump has a good relationship with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Egyptian officials, however, have argued that the United States is taking Ethiopia’s side. The Trump administration has tried to counter both claims by assuring that Washington is an impartial mediator. But in a recorded phone call with Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump stated the following:
“It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way.”
“And I said it and I say it loud and clear – they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something.”
The bias is very clear in those statements, but what I’m having an issue with the most is the aid that Ethiopia is dependent upon from the United States. This further supports my position on why Africa has to become sovereign to get respect.
I’ll keep you all updated on any new findings. But if you have any additional information, feel free to comment below.
Until Next Time…
Gramer, R. (2020, August 27). U.S. Halts Some Foreign Assistance Funding to Ethiopia Over Dam Dispute with Egypt, Sudan. Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/27/trump-africa-gerd-dam-us-halts-foreign-assistance-funding-ethiopia-over-dam-dispute-egypt-sudan/
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project, Benishangul-Gumuz. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://www.water-technology.net/projects/grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam-africa/
Trump comment on ‘blowing up’ Nile Dam angers Ethiopia. (2020, October 25). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54674313