What does the Renaissance Dam look like 13 years after laying the foundation stone? (a report)

What does the Renaissance Dam look like 13 years after laying the foundation stone?  (a report)


Mohammed ‘alaa

Published on: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 – 3:10 PM | Last updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 – 3:10 PM

– Ethiopia announces the completion of 95.8% of the dam and is preparing for the fifth filling
Addis Ababa reserved 40 billion cubic meters in 4 years
– Continuing filling without an agreement is a legal violation and a violation of the Declaration of Principles
– Operating 5 additional turbines to generate electricity this year
Addis Ababa plans to benefit from 70 artificial islands and fish from the dam lake
– An Ethiopian report talks about a plan to build 70 dams to generate electricity throughout the country
– Egypt has dealt with the damage from the Renaissance Dam… and Ethiopia must pay the price one day
The decrease in the Nile water by one billion cubic meters threatens to cause 290,000 people to lose their sources of income
In conjunction with its celebration of the 13th anniversary of laying the foundation stone, on April 2, 2011, Ethiopia announced the completion of 95.8% of the Renaissance Dam project while preparing for the fifth filling by the summer, without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia reserved about 40 billion cubic meters in the Renaissance Dam lake after 4 years of filling, in “unilateral” steps that Cairo described as “a legal violation and a violation of the Declaration of Principles.”

Direct negotiations and mediation efforts for 13 years did not succeed in reaching an agreement between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, as Addis Ababa continues construction work without stopping.

*Negotiations end*

Last December, Egypt announced the end of the “negotiating tracks” regarding the Renaissance Dam, after years of exploiting the negotiating cover to “perpetuate the reality on the ground.”

Ethiopia refused to adopt any of the intermediate technical and legal solutions that would secure the interests of the three countries, while it persisted in “reneging on the understandings reached that meet its declared interests,” according to a previous statement by the Ministry of Irrigation.

Cairo confirmed that it will “closely” monitor the process of filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, while reserving its right guaranteed under international conventions to defend its water and national security in the event it is exposed to harm.

Recently, the Minister of Irrigation, Dr. Hani Sweilem, said that the end of the negotiating process regarding the Renaissance Dam was a state decision, and there was no development in the situation, stressing that there would be no return to the negotiations in their previous form.

The Minister of Irrigation confirmed that an agreement had been reached on the Renaissance Dam more than once, but “the other side” was withdrawing, adding: “There was a consumption of time and evasions.” Therefore, there was a clear position not to complete the negotiations, and that each party should bear its responsibility, and the Egyptian state has the right to take the necessary measures in the event of a direct threat to it.

*Field position*

On the ground, Ethiopia announced that 95.8% of the Renaissance Dam project has been completed, according to Deputy Prime Minister Temesin Tironah in statements reported by the official Ethiopian News Agency, ENA.

“The attempts made by many to obstruct Ethiopia’s efforts were in vain,” Tirunah said, adding that what he described as a “victory” was achieved with “the active participation of the people and an unprecedented commitment from the leadership.”

Also in this regard, the Ethiopian Government Communications Services Office likened what was achieved in the Renaissance Dam to the “historic victory of Adwa,” referring to the battle in which Addis Ababa confronted an Italian invasion attempt in 1896.

The statement indicated that the Renaissance Dam project has entered its final stages. After overcoming “the challenges and difficulties that he faced over the past years, despite external pressures and international campaigns to disrupt him.”

The Ethiopian government office claimed that the goal of building the Renaissance Dam is to “provide electricity to the Ethiopian people without negatively affecting any other party,” Ethiopian Radio Fana reported.

* Electricity generation *

While the head of the Ethiopian negotiating team and Addis Ababa’s ambassador to the United States, Seleshi Bekele, confirmed that the construction work on the Renaissance Dam would be completed “within a few months,” he indicated in a tweet on his account on the X website (formerly Twitter) that 5 additional turbines are expected to enter service this year.

In 2022, Ethiopia announced the start of operation of two turbines out of a total of 13 turbines to generate electricity from the Renaissance Dam, which will generate 5,150 megawatts, according to government officials.

A report by the Ethiopian Press Agency indicates that the Renaissance Dam aims to provide electricity to 70% of its citizens, numbering 120 million, and provide additional energy to be exported to neighboring countries, including Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Tanzania.

*Other Ethiopian gains*

In addition to energy production, the report indicates other Ethiopian gains from the Renaissance Dam, including tourism and fishing.

The Deputy Head of the Agriculture Office in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, Berhanu Etitcha, announced that about 753 tons of fish had been caught from the Renaissance Dam Lake, while noting that there are 4 licensed fishing federations in the region, with 38 youth federations provided with fishing licenses.

Earlier last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated that the Renaissance Dam “is now home to about 70 islands with huge potential to develop tourist destinations.”

The Ethiopian Press Agency report indicated that the seventy islands will be open to local and foreign investors in the hospitality industry, noting that three local companies have already expressed their interest in this sector.

*More dams*

Ethiopia intends to build about 70 dams, over time, across the country to generate more energy for the country’s growing industry that requires a 30% annual increase in energy needs, according to the report.

Ethiopia has 12 rivers, including the Blue Nile, Atbara, and Setet, which are tributaries of the Nile River, in addition to the Omo, Awash, and Shabelle.

*serious threat*

Cairo fears the impact of the Renaissance Dam, which is scheduled to impound 74 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile, the main source of the Nile River, which represents about 98% of Egypt’s renewable water resources, while it suffers a deficit of up to 55% of its water needs, which amount to 120 billion cubic meters. .

Egypt warned that the decrease in the Nile water by one billion cubic meters threatens to cause 290,000 people in the agricultural sector to lose their sources of income, the loss of 130 hectares of agricultural land (a hectare equals about 2.4 acres), an increase of $150 million in the food import bill, and a loss of $430 million. In agricultural production, according to official estimates reported by Egypt in a letter to the Security Council in May 2020 before the first filling.

The letter, signed by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, stated that filling this dam unilaterally, before agreeing with the two downstream countries on the rules governing its filling and operation, could constitute a “serious threat to peace and security throughout the region.”

He added that the Ethiopian dam “could jeopardize water and food security, and even the existence of more than 100 million citizens who depend entirely on the Nile River for their livelihood.”

* Egyptian fears *

Cairo fears two cases of operating the Renaissance Dam “without an agreement,” and the Minister of Irrigation stressed the ministry’s interest in the future in cases of prolonged drought, lasting 7 or 10 years, explaining: “Then the High Dam’s reserves will be depleted, while Ethiopia stores water in the Renaissance Dam to generate electricity.”

He continued: The second case concerns refilling after a prolonged drought, where all the dams are empty. If Ethiopia moves to fill its dam first, we will be exposed to long years of drought, both natural and artificial, due to filling the dam, and this is a bottleneck in the negotiations, and we have sought to reach a binding legal agreement. Why does it occur in extended drought and refill phase?

*Who pays the price? *

Sweilem said that it cannot be said that the Renaissance Dam did not harm Egypt, adding: “But this harm was dealt with by the Egyptian state at some cost, and Egypt must demand it from Ethiopia one day based on the Declaration of Principles agreement.”

The Minister of Irrigation relied on the third clause of the Declaration of Principles, regarding “not causing significant harm,” which stipulates that the three countries will take appropriate measures to avoid causing significant harm during their use of the Blue Nile/the main river.

It also included that, despite this, if significant damage occurs to one of the countries, the country causing this damage must, in the absence of an agreement on this act, take all appropriate measures in coordination with the affected country to mitigate or prevent this damage, and discuss the issue of compensation. Whenever appropriate.

*Cooperation for peace*

Last March 22, the United Nations celebrated World Water Day, under the slogan “Water for Peace,” warning that it “may establish peace or ignite conflict.”

She explained, in a report on her water portal, that when water is scarce or polluted, or when people lack or have no equal access to water, tensions may rise between societies and countries.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to facilitate cross-border cooperation, while urging all countries to join and implement the United Nations Water Convention, as it encourages the sustainable management of shared water resources.


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