By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 18, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – The outgoing Sudanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Muhidin Salim Ahmed Ibrahim, said that the Sudanese community there support the hydropowered dam the Horn of Africa country intends to build on the Blue Nile.
Ibrahim made the remarks at a farewell ceremony in the presence of Ethiopia’s President Girma Woldegiorgis, on Friday after concluding his four-year term in Ethiopia.
Ambassador Ibrahim said that during his tenure, he has put all efforts to further strengthen the long-standing historic ties and cooperation between the two countries.
The Ethiopian president, Woldegiorgis, expressed appreciation for the role the outgoing Ambassador played to accelerate social, economic and political ties between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.
The president also commended efforts made by the ambassador to advance the Ethiopia-Sudan joint ministerial talks to head-of-state level.
Ethiopia has recently launched a 5,250 Mega Watt hydropower plant on the Blue Nile River in Benishangul-Gumuz region, very close to the Sudanese border. The 80 billion birr ($4.76 billion) project will solely be funded by Ethiopia, partially through the sale of government bonds.
Despite protests from Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia has insisted on carrying out the project with or without external financial funds.
Ethiopian authorities argue that the project’s environmental impact on local populations is minimal and any effect can easily be mitigated. Upon completion the country has plans to export power to neighboring countries including Sudan, Egypt and Djibouti.
“There is no doubt that Sudan and Egypt will also benefit largely from the project through water conservation. Evaporation levels will drop significantly, and sedimentation will also fall. It will provide a valuable regulation of water flow in a period of climate change, improve prospects of navigation and provide power for the Nile valley” Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn said at a recent monthly press conference.
Ethiopia has the second-largest hydropower potential in Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo however it has only managed to use 3.5 percent of it potential so far.
The horn of Africa nation, says the international community should support such projects in Africa stressing the importance of developing infrastructure in the continent and of its value for industrialisation.
Africa had only been able to exploit no more than five percent of its hydropower potential compared with over 70 percent in Europe and North America.