KHARTOUM, (Sudanow)—The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has numerous benefits that include upgrading the hydroelectric power generation, heightening the water level and expanding the agricultural acreage for the peoples of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Standing on the Ethiopian Plateau, the Dam storage capacity reaches 72 billion cubic meters, according to a high-level Ethiopian official.
However, strategic studies experts of the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources expressed fears about Ethiopian control of the water flow, with Professor Hassan Saory underlining that the Sudan’s future water supplies would be under Ethiopia control. In a symposium titled “Impact of GERD on Sudan sand Egypt that was recently organized by the Khartoum-based International University of Africa in collaboration with the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum, Sudanese experts called for a tripartite supervision of the construction of the Dam and sharing the costs by the three states.
The former Irrigation Under-Secretary, engineer Ahmed Mohamed Adam, stressed the need for a joint agreement for benefitting from the DAM, adding that such an agreement should be resolved before implementation.
The experts suggested that GERD be constructed in partnership of the Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia and that its administration be conducted collectively by the three countries. Sudanese Minister of State for Irrigation, Water Resources and Electricity Tabita Butrus Shokay emphasized the importance of a role to be played by scientists, experts, economists and agriculturists in discussing the important issues of concern to the Nile Basin states, particularly in connection with GERD which is being built by Ethiopia.
Dr. Shokay suggested that the organizers of the symposium provide the information required for rich deliberation, indicating the importance of the symposium for addressing the water issues in the African Continent.
Nevertheless, the Ethiopian Minister of Water Resources and Electric Power reassured the peoples of Sudan and Egypt against fears they anticipate from construction of the Dam, affirming that the two countries would not be harmed by GERD. Great expectations are awaiting the Sudan and Egypt in the realms of electricity and agriculture upon completion of the GERD construction, according to the Ethiopian Minister who took part in the symposium.
He agreed with the Sudanese experts and strategists on the importance of a partnership of the three Nile Basin countries of the Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Minister negotiation by the three countries would lead to great benefits and prosperity for the peoples of the region.
The Director of the Ethiopian Trans-border Water Authority provided the experts and researchers participating in the symposium with important information on GERD project. He said his country is in need of a lot of energy, noting that the Dam would raise the electric power generation from 2,000 to 8,000 megawatts and would provide water for irrigation of 2,800 square kilometers.
In an attempt to dispel fears by some Sudanese experts, the Ethiopian Water Authority official said the water would not blocked but, after storage, it would flow down to the Sudan and Egypt. He added that the generated electricity would meet the Ethiopian demand and could be exported abroad.
He said GERD would improve the Ethiopian economy and would prevent floods in the Sudan. He said his country’s top priority is the Dam’s soundness from the technical, design and engineering aspects. There exists a considerable measure of transparency and cooperation to ensure non-occurrence of any negative effects from the Dam on the neighboring countries.
Engineer Abdul Halim Abdullah al-Turabi expects common economic benefits to be reaped by the peoples of the Sudan and Ethiopia, stressing the importance of concluding by the two countries of an agreement on disposal, storage and control of the flow of water agreed upon by the Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt.
The Vice-Chancellor of the International University of Africa, Professor Hassan Mekki, expressed fears and reservations over GERD with regards to the soundness and safety of the design of the Dam which lies in Benishangul region which 26 kilometers away from the Sudanese borderline.
Experts list GERD advantages and disadvantages as follows:-
1-Generation of hydro-electric power, 5250 megawatts which is threefold the current consumption
2-Control of the floods in the Sudan, especially at Er Roseiris Dam
3-Provision of water a part of which may be used for irrigation
4-Holding back an estimated annual 420 billion cubic meters of the Blue Nile silt, a process that prolongs the life-span of the Sudanese dams as well as the Egyptian Aswan Dam
5-Minimizing the rate of evaporation from GERD Lake as it is 570 to 650 meters above sea level, compared to the rate of evaporation from the Aswan Lake which is 160 to 176 above sea level
6-cutting down the load of the water stored at Aswan Dam Lake which cause light earthquakes
1-The high construction cost estimated at $4.8 billion dollars and is expected to reach $8 billion dollars.
2-Submersion around half a million
3-Submersion of the mining regions of gold, platinum, iron and copper and some quarries regions
4-Relocation of about 30,000 people from the region of the Lake area
5-Short lifespan of the Dam that ranges between 25 to 50 years due to an annually accumulated 420,000 cubic meters of silt and the resulting problems it causes to grave problems to the power generation turbines in addition to gradually minimizing the efficiency of the Dam
6-an increased likelihood that the Dam may collapse due to geological factors and to the rapid rush of the Blue Nile water that, during certain periods of the year (September), exceeds a daily 0.5 billion cubic meters plummeting from a height of more than 2,000 meters to about6 600 meters at the Dam. If it occurs, the collapse will be disastrous to the Sudanese villages and towns, particularly Khartoum, which will be swept away by the powerfully rushing water in a way similar to the Japanese Tsunami of 2011
7-Increased chances of the occurrence of an earthquake in the region of the Dam as a result of the load of the water that has not existed before in a cracked rocky environment
8-The political strain in the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia over the GERD project
9-The loss of water to be experienced by Egypt and the Sudan of an amount that is equal to the GERD storage capacity ranging between 5 and 25 billion cubic meters that will occur only once during the first year of inauguration of the Dam as the average annual water revenue of the Blue Nile is around 50 billion cubic meters.