Sep 15, 2023
Ethiopian officials made an announcement this week. They said the country has filled a key reservoir. It's one attached to the nation's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project. The project is on the Nile River. It’s part of a $4.2 billion bid to bring hydroelectric power to the nation, which is in dire need of more energy. But the announcement drew criticism from the East African nation's neighbors. The Nile is 4,000 miles long. And many countries rely upon the river's waters.
Abiy Ahmed is Ethiopia's Prime Minister. The PM announced the filling of the dam "with great pleasure" in a tweet.
Egypt’s foreign ministry responded on Facebook. It decried what it described as disregard for "the downstream countries." It said their water security is "guaranteed by principles of international law."
The GERD has already begun generating power for Ethiopia's 127 million people. To do so, it slows the flow of the Blue Nile River. That's a vital tributary for the larger Nile River that flows through Sudan and Egypt. The dam is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity. This equals the output of 10 coal-powered plants. Ethiopia hopes to use that power for its own population. It aims to sell it to other countries too. But the Blue Nile’s waters are a finite resource. Every gallon routed into an Ethiopian reservoir is one that Sudan and Egypt cannot use. And both desert nations are fighting ongoing water shortages.
Egypt's officials noted that talks about the dam are ongoing. Despite Ethiopia's move, they remain hopeful. They would like the next round of talks to yield a "genuine breakthrough."
Reflect: What do you think should happen when countries disagree about how to use a shared resource like a river? Do you think it is possible to find a solution that's fair for everyone involved? Explain.
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