Ethiopia reportedly downsizing Dam capacity ahead of Abiy, El-Sisi meeting in Russia

Local news sources in Ethiopia report that Ethiopia is downsizing mega-dam project ahead of Egyptian president and Ethiopian Prime Minister meeting in Russia. Ethiopian electric power has dismissed it as a wrong information

Ethiopia _ Dam _ Egypt
Ethiopian Dam Project. Photo credit : DW

October 14, 2019

Egyptian President  Abdul Fatah el-Sisi announced that he will be meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Moscow, Russia, in a televised speech on Sunday. 

Egyptian news source said the two leaders will discuss the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam project. Their meeting is said to take place on the sidelines of Russia-Africa Summit which is expected to take place later this month. 

More than 50 African countries are expected to attend. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (who is also currently chairperson of the African Union) will co-chair the meeting. 

Egypt Independent quoted president el-Sisi as saying “If the incidents of 2011 hadn’t happened, we would have had a chance to reach an agreement on the dam” during the 31st Cultural Symposium of Armed Forces.

Some of his remarks during the occasion seem to have a military tone although he reportedly said that Egypt will not attack Ethiopia. 

He told the armed forces “If you don’t watch out for our country, there will be more harm like this. We must move on with developing our country, though we will not reach all our goals overnight” as quoted by Egypt Independent.  

The trilateral negotiation between the water ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan that took place in the Sudanese capital Khartoum earlier this month ended with no agreement.

The Ethiopian water minister remarked to local journalists that the Egyptian proposal during the talk, which was about the filling and operation of the dam, violates Ethiopia’s right to use its fair share of the water and its sovereignty. 

Among key points of disagreement is that Egypt wants the Dam to release 40 billion cubic meters of water annually which Ethiopia says is impossible. As well, Egypt wants to maintain its Aswan Dam at 165 meters above the ground, among other points of disagreement.  

During the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September of this year, President el-Sisi said that the negotiation process is stalled and that it could cause to the instability of the region, and has called for the intervention of mediators.  But Ethiopia has rejected the involvement of an entity, that is not a party to the subject, in the negotiation process. 

Meanwhile, new information emerging from Ethiopia says Ethiopia is downsizing the number of turbines that generate hydroelectric power. Initially, the Dam was intended to generate 6000 MW of power.  According to Addis Fortune News on Sunday, three turbines will be removed. If the report is true, the change will bring hydroelectric power generating capacity the Dam to 4700 MW. 

Ethiopian Electric Power Authority has denied that there is no change in terms of power generation plan to the Dam.

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