ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his country, which contributes over 85 percent of water resources to the Nile River, has no intention of harming Sudan and Egypt using its massive hydroelectric power project.
Abiy said this in his virtual address to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that we have no intention to harm these countries,” told 193 member states regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built along the Nile.
The PM said Ethiopia is paying close attention to concerns raised by the lower riparian countries during the ongoing Nile dispute talks brokered by the continental bloc, African Union (AU).
“We are steadfast in our commitment to addressing the concerns of downstream countries and reaching a mutually beneficial outcome in the context of the AU-led process,” he said.
Abiy argued that the $ 4.8 billion mega dam project, which would be Africa’s largest, contributes to the conservation of water resources,
He said the dam will enable conservation of water resources “which would otherwise have been lost to evaporation in downstream countries” of Sudan and Egypt.
“We are basically working to meet our demand for electricity from clean energy,” he said, further stressing that his country cannot afford to continue keeping over 65 million of its 110 million population in the dark.
He also warned of crises including desert locust outbreaks, climate change and the global Covid-19 pandemic that are posing imminent threats to the livelihoods of millions of Ethiopians.
“There is no stark reminder of the need for urgent action than the devastating impact of climate change that we are witnessing in various parts of the world,” noted the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister.
Addis Ababa has long been arguing that the power plant project being built near the Sudanese border will ease the severity of perennial flooding in that country.
However, Sudan and Egypt fear that the project will eventually diminish their historic water share from the Nile River.
As a result, they continue pressing for a final binding agreement on outstanding issues including the annual operation and filling of the dam, mainly during dry seasons.
The recent unprecedented flooding in Sudan has claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and displaced over one million people, forcing Khartoum to declare a three-month state of emergency.
Sudanese authorities have blamed heavy rains originating from neighboring Ethiopia for the flooding, which has reportedly exceeded records set in 1946 and 1988.
Following the incidents, officials in Khartoum, including Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, have openly voiced the Gerd’s importance in preventing such natural occurrences.
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle, Nation Media Group