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Egypt predicts disaster due to Ethiopia dam

Construction machinery stands in the center of the dam wall at the site of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. [Zacharias Abubeker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
Construction machinery stands in the centre of the dam wall at the site of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. [Zacharias Abubeker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Egypt will be faced with disaster once the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is fully operational, the Human Development Report in Egypt for 2021 has said.

The publication, issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Planning and Economic Development in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program, stressed that the process of filling the dam would seriously affect the availability of water in Egypt and thus will affect various economic activities.

It will also cause water levels in Lake Nasser at the Aswan High Dam to drop to 147 metres. This could also impact hydroelectric power production at the dam.

Ethiopian newspaper Capital said that the work on the Renaissance Dam had been completed and the production of energy will be tested in the coming days.

The newspaper quoted sources saying that the dam is expected to generate 700 megawatts at a pre-production stage. Officials from the Ministry of Water and Energy have claimed that the dam will cover 20 per cent of Ethiopia's needs when it first starts producing electricity.

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Western sources had revealed that the American envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, is due to visit Cairo at the end of January. Egypt hopes to urge the US to play a decisive role in settling the GERD crisis.

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn't and issued a statement to this effect.

In July, Ethiopia informed downstream countries Egypt and Sudan that it had started the second phase of filling the dam's reservoir in an effort to take advantage of the rainy season. Egypt responded saying: "Addis Ababa is violating international laws and norms, and is treating the River Nile as its own property."

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