| VATICAN: “Continue on the Path of Dialogue,” Say Pope Francis Concerning Nile Dam Controversy |
Pope Francis has asked representatives of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to dialogue and come to agreement concerning the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.
The dispute began in 2011 after Ethiopia broke ground on the $4.5 billion project, and has intensified after they began filling the reservoir in July this year, a move which Egypt and Sudan did not welcome. The tension increased until the three countries reached a legally binding deal.
“I am following with particular attention the negotiations regarding the Nile between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan,” Pope Francis said after the Angelus on Saturday, August 15, and added, “I invite all parties to continue on the path of dialogue.”
The Pontiff emphasized that through dialogue “the Eternal River might continue to be a source of life that unites, not divides; that nourishes friendship, prosperity, fraternity, and never enmity, misunderstanding or conflict.”
The GERD project which aims to provide electricity to around 60% of Ethiopian households is owned by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO) and funded by the people and Government of Ethiopia.
According to the leadership of Egypt, the dam project seems a threat which will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river and at the same time it will reduce the flow of water in the Nile which provides 90% of Egypt’s fresh water.
When accomplished, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa and the seventh largest in the world.
The project is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity in Ethiopia which will help the citizens and improve livelihoods in the country. Besides, the surplus power will be sold to neighboring countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Pope Francis pleaded with the three countries during the Saturday message, “Let dialogue, dear brothers and sisters of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, let dialogue be your only choice, for the good of your dear populations and of the entire world.”
The three countries have agreed to continue with negotiations, with Egypt and Sudan hoping that the talks would lead to progress in resolving the dispute.
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