BY NEW BUSINESS ETHIOPIA REPORTER
Prime Minister Meles Zanawi this morning (April 2, 2011) laid the corner stone for the Millennium Dam construction, which Ethiopia is going to build on the Nile River 40 kilometers to the Sudanese border.
The ceremony is transmitted live on the national television. The government vow to fully finance the dam on the Nile River, which will cost 80 billion birr (around 4.8 billion US dollars at the prevailing exchange rates).
Briefing local and foreign press this week (March 30, 2011) at the Sheraton Addis, Minister of Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, noted that the government is forced to finance the project alone because Egypt has been engaged in a continuous campaign telling international creditors and donors not to finance Ethiopian projects on the Nile River.
“,,,Using its standing in multilateral financial institutions and the donor community, Egyptian leadership constantly campaigns to0 block any provision of loans and grants to Ethiopia intended to development projects cantered on the Nile,” the Minister said.
“Partly as a scheme to divert attention from its internal weakness, the leadership creates commotion whenever the issue of water resources development is raised. It is in the consequence of such underhanded machination why the Ethiopian government alone bears the cost of the Nile hydroelectric project, despite the well-known fact that ultimately the project benefits both the Sudan and Egypt,” he said.
Recalling that Ethiopia has fully invested a total of 10 billion birr (around 600 million US dollars at the current exchange rates) on dams Tekeze and Beles hydroelectric dams, which began operation last year, Alemayehu said: “Alas, Ethiopia’s resolve has now reached a point of no return”.
The hydroelectric project X, which is now renamed as ‘Millennium Dam on the Nile’, is expected to hold double the size of Lake Tana water (62 billion cubic meters). It will be constructed 20 to 40 kilometers at the east of Sudanese border and will generate 5,250 Mega watts electricity.
Referring to the study conducted on the project by foreign consultants, the Minister indicated that the project will not reduce the amount of water that is flowing to Egypt and the Sudan. He argued it rather enables the two countries to develop more land in irrigation as the Millennium Dam will regulate the water flow.
“…For instance, with only a slight reduction in the water levels of the Aswan Dam of Egypt, more than 7.5 billion cubic meters of water could be saved from evaporation. Moreover, through the implementation of Egypt’s own efficient and effective utilization o0f the Nile River project, up to eight billion cubic meters of water could be saved,” he said.
According to the minister Millennium Dam will be completed in 44 months and two of its units will start generation 700 mega watts of electricity at initial stage. He calls upon the Ethiopian people both the local and the diaspora to buy bonds for the construction of Millennium Dam and leave their mark on Ethiopia’s transformative development.