FR EN ES Search
  1. Home
  2. Past Events
  3. The Grande Renaissance dam, a source of conflict over sharing the water of the Nile


All the news

The Grande Renaissance dam, a source of conflict over sharing the water of the Nile

The construction of the GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) is nearing completion although the three countries concerned – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan –have still not reached agreement on its operation and the principles of cooperation. In December, new frictions came to light, proving the geopolitical importance of rivers and sharing water there and elsewhere in the world.

At the beginning of the 2000s, Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, launched a gigantic dam construction programme to ensure its energy independence and satisfy its development needs. The Renaissance dam, built on the Blue Nile, is planned to produce 6,000 MW, i.e. the equivalent of six nuclear reactors, and will be able to store nearly 70 billion cubic meters of water.

This enormous structure, destined to become Africa’s largest hydropower plant, has given rise to fears in neighbouring countries. The Blue Nile, which flows from its source in Ethiopia, converges with the White Nile at Khartoum to form the Nile which then crosses Sudan and Egypt before reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Sudan, favourable to the principle, is claiming a share of the electricity. However, Egypt, which draws 90% of its water for drinking, agriculture and industry from the Nile, is afraid that this huge dam will lower the flow of the river and that the water will be drawn off upstream, notably for irrigation.

A tripartite international committee that gathers Cairo, Khartoum and Addis-Ababa has been set up and an agreement in principle was signed in 2015 to favour cooperation on issues of compensation and the sale of energy. Since then, the three parties have been unable to agree on the conclusions of a report issued last May by two French consultancies on the dam’s social and environmental impacts. Also, although Egypt recognises Ethiopia’s right to development, it regularly recalls its “historic rights” over the river guaranteed by treaties dating back to 1929 and 1959 and which grant around 87% of the river’s discharge to Egypt and Sudan.

So the diplomats must continue to work rapidly to solve this dispute and define how each of the three countries will share the water of the Nile.

Mettez à jour votre navigateur pour consulter ce site