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  • Ethiopian mega-dam project leaves Egypt high and dry

    It’s like negotiating the rules of engagement long after the contest has been held and the winner declared. Egypt is deeply worried about the impact on its water supply of a dam being built by Ethiopia far to the south, on the Blue Nile.

    At a meeting with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts last year, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country’s concerns while, at the same time, signing what was termed a “declaration of principles” about how the multi-billion dollar scheme – one of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects - should be implemented.

    Whatever principles have been agreed on – and these seem rather vague – the project is going ahead. Work on what’s grandly named the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, is now more than 70 percent complete. The dam, which will eventually produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity according to its backers, is scheduled to start operations next year.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as vital to lifting a large segment of its more than 80 million people out of poverty. It also has ambitions to turn itself into "The powerhouse of Africa" by selling energy produced by the project.

    Successive Egyptian administrations seem to have been caught by surprise by Ethiopia’s determination to implement the GERD. The fact that the project is progressing – and has won the support of many of Egypt’s neighbours to the south - is also seen as an indication of Cairo’s waning influence in Africa. Any development which might interfere with the flow of the Nile waters is of great concern to Egypt. Most of its more than 80 million people live within a few kilometres of the river.

    The river supplies the bulk of the country’s drinking water and irrigates the Nile Delta, one of the most fertile regions on the planet. Any drop in the level of the Nile as a result of developments upstream could seriously affect water supplies, already under severe pressure.

    The Nile also generates about half of Egypt’s electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam, built in the 1960s with the help of the Soviet Union.

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  • Ethiopia: From Lion of Judah to economic lion

    Ethiopian priests and monks walk during the annual festival of Timkat in Lalibela, which celebrates the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

    (CNN)If there was ever a country that embodied the optimism of the "Africa rising" narrative, it would be Ethiopia. The economy of Africa's second-most populated country has for the past decade grown at an average of 10.8% every year.

    Ethiopia has been a prominent player in modern world affairs since 1896, when it defeated Italy in the Battle of Adwa. The nation on the "horn of Africa" was among the first independent countries to sign the United Nations' Charter, and supported the decolonization of other countries and the birth and growth of Pan-Africanism. The African Union is based in capital city, Addis Ababa.
    As a reflection of its growing international influence, in July 2015 alone, Addis played host to world leaders at the Financing for Development Summit, (a crucial meeting ahead of the UN summit in September) and to U.S. president Barack Obama.
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