Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have commissioned studies into the environmental and economic impact of the construction of a $4 billion dam on the Nile that Addis Ababa aims to make the centrepiece of its bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam, situated close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan and being built by Italy’s largest construction firm Salini Impregilo SpA, is due for completion next year.
The construction of the dam has become a major bone of contention between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Egypt widely relies on the Nile for agricultural, industrial and domestic water use, and is worried that the dam may significantly cut the flow of water to its rapidly growing population.
Ethiopia has complained that Egypt has pressured international donors and lenders to withhold funding for the project.
The studies are scheduled to take 11 months.
The leaders of the three countries signed a co-operation deal in Khartoum last year to pave the way for a joint approach to regional water supplies.