Apr 20th 2011 | ADDIS ABABA | from the The Economist print edition
MOST of the water meandering down the lower reaches of the Nile, the world’s longest river, comes from the Ethiopian highlands, putting rulers in Addis Ababa, the capital, in a position of unusual power, one they have rarely dared to exploit.
But since Egypt, the biggest and most influential consumer of Nile water, is distracted by revolutionary upheaval at home, this may be changing. Ethiopia and the other upstream countries—Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—have banded together to rewrite a 1959 treaty that favours Egypt.
They may succeed. After decades of strong population growth, Ethiopia has overtaken Egypt as Africa’s second-most-numerous nation. The total population of the upstream countries is 240m against 130m for the downstream duo of Egypt (85m) and Sudan (45m), whose 14m southerners will soon be independent and are being courted by both sides.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, is determined to dam his bit of the Nile. On April 2nd he laid the foundation for the Grand Millennium Dam. With a planned hydropower capacity of 5.25 gigawatts and a flooded canyon twice as voluminous as the country’s largest lake, it is the centrepiece of a plan to increase the country’s electricity supply fivefold by 2015.
Full Story – (The Economist)