Ethiopia calls Egypt to resume talks over dam

Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn invited Egypt for another round of tripartite talks with Sudan to discuss building its dam on the Nile

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Ethiopia has urged Egypt for another round of tripartite talks with Sudan to implement international recommendations over the construction of its hydroelectric dam on the Nile, an Egyptian news agency reported Thursday.

“We seek to persuade the Egyptian authorities to avoid unnecessary complaints against the dam and to resume the tripartite talks with Ethiopia and Sudan,” the state-run news agency MENA quoted Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as saying during a parliament meeting.

Desalegn said his country is ready to respond if Egypt decided to take its dispute over the Grand Renaissance Dam to the United Nations.

Thirty-one percent of the dam’s construction was already complete, Desalegn said, adding that the dam would begin generating electricity next year.

Ethiopia building the damn could transform one of the world’s poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub.

Addis Ababa has already rejected an offer from Cairo to help finance building the dam and opted to fully pay for the project.

The electricity it will generate - enough to power a giant rich-world city like New York - can be exported across a power-hungry region.

So far, Ethiopia has paid 27 billion birr ($1.5 billion) out of a total projected cost of 77 billion birr for the dam, which will create a lake 246 km long, according to Reuters.

Economists warn that squeezing the private sector to pay for the public infrastructure could hurt future prospects. Growth is already showing signs of slowing.

Egypt, which has claimed exclusive right to control the Nile’s waters for generations, is infuriated. Cairo worries the dam will reduce the flow on which it has depended for drinking water and irrigation for thousands of years.

Talks between Ethiopia and Egypt deteriorated in recent months but officials from the two countries still insist they will continue to meet in order to solve the dispute.

Egypt has demanded building be halted pending negotiations between the countries.

Cairo no longer wields the same leverage it once did when upriver sub-Saharan countries were too poor to build such huge projects themselves.

(With Reuters)

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