2 May 2014

East Africa: State Minister of Foreign Affairs Says Egypt Will Be Able to Obtain Electricity From the GERD

Ambassador Berhane, State minister for Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday (April 29) that the benefits of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would extend to Egypt's ability to obtain electricity from Ethiopia.

Speaking at a Forum two-day forum held at Bahr Dar University and attended by intellectuals and politicians to consider Ethiopia's Nile water rights, Ambassador Berhane emphasized that the dam is not being constructed for irrigation or farming, but for generating electricity.

"The water will pass through turbines to conduct electricity, and then continue its flow," the State Minister said, adding that Egypt would not be harmed by the dam: "on the contrary, [Egyptians] can get electricity from Ethiopia after the dam's construction is complete." Egypt has been suffering from electricity shortages which have resulted in increasingly recurrent power cuts nationwide, even in winter months.

The Egyptian government announced early this month that it planned to boost the country's supply of electricity by importing natural gas and diesel and would be beginning construction of three new power plants. Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir, also speaking at Bahr Dar, said that Ethiopia's fast-paced development also benefits Sudan.

President Al-Bashir said Ethiopia's development was also to be seen as a step forward for Sudan.

The Forum brought together local prominent intellectuals and professionals to discuss the legal rights of Ethiopia to use the Nile water. Participants included water experts, representatives from government universities, and senior officials of the federal and regional governments, MPs, and civil activists.

The main theme of the discussions were how best Ethiopia could maintain sustainable and equitable utilization and management of the Nile water, as well as consider the role of governments, African organizations and riparian state scientists in encouraging deepening cooperation of the Nile Basin states.

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