Ethiopia won’t stop constructing the Renaissance Dam: minister

Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Sileshi Bekele said Saturday that his country will not stop constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite Egypt’s protestations, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

During a press briefing on Saturday, the minister responded to a question on whether Ethiopia would stop building the dam due to Egypt’s current stance on its impact on downstream countries, saying, “the dam is 63 percent completed and it is being constructed around-the-clock”.

“On our part, we are constructing the dam according to the schedule, the quality and the standard that the dam of this size requires”, he added.

Egypt has criticized the construction of the dam on the basis that it would reduce its share of Nile water, which currently stands at 55.5 billion cubic meters per year in accordance with a 1959 treaty.

Ethiopia has been constructing the Rennaissance Dam since 2011 over the Blue Nile, one of Egypt’s major sources of freshwater, and is expected to be completed within the coming period.

Sileshi said that Egypt and Sudan will benefit from the energy that the dam will generate and the fact that it will secure the countries’ water needs in case of future droughts.

“We have to take this dam as a real opportunity that provides lots of benefits for the three countries. We have carried out relevant and adequate studies on our side which prove that the dam does not bring any significant impact on downstream countries”, the minister further stated.

On his part, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem said Thursday that the construction of GERD is crucial for Ethiopia’s development, which has suffered from series of droughts over the years.

ENA quoted Meles as saying that the “zero sum game diplomacy” with respect to the dam is not useful to any country in the Nile Basin.

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