ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s foreign ministry in a sharply worded statement Friday dismissed Egypt’s latest proposal on a massive Nile River dam project as “against the sovereignty of Ethiopia.”
The statement came shortly after Egypt said a new round of talks over the filling and operation of the soon-to-be-finished $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam failed to achieve progress. The talks had resumed after more than a year.
Egypt fears Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam could reduce its share of the Nile, which serves as a lifeline for the country’s 100 million people. Ethiopia has roughly the same population and says the dam will help development in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
Ethiopia’s new statement said that “various new and harmful ideas that could harm the trust developed between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan should stop.” It also said Egypt’s new proposal is against development plans Ethiopia has set out on the Nile and will make filling the dam complicated and burdensome.
Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon completion of the dam, which will generate about 6,400 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current production.
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are expected to hold technical negotiations from Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Sudan. Egypt wants Sudan’s support in the Nile dam dispute, as both nations are downriver from the project.
Ethiopia hasn’t revealed how quickly it wants to fill the reservoir, which would affect the amount of water available for Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt wants Ethiopia to fill the dam’s reservoir over a longer period of time — seven years — and to release 40 billion cubic meters of water every year, Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water and irrigation, told state-run broadcaster EBC earlier this week.
An Egyptian official, however, has asserted that the two countries had agreed that the first of five stages for filling the dam should take two years. After these five stages, all the dam’s hydroelectric turbines would be able to operate.
Otherwise, the official asserted, Egypt could lose more than 1 million jobs and $1.8 billion annually. He spoke this week on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile waters under decades-old agreements seen by other Nile basin countries as unfair.
Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.
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