ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Egyptian media is replete with objections to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's announcement of plans to build a large number of dams for irrigation.
Abiy said Sunday that Ethiopia would build more than 100 small and medium dams in regional states in the coming fiscal year.
He said “working hand-in-hand is the only way to resist any forces against Ethiopia" during his address at the launch ceremony of the first phase of the Adama-Awash 60 kilometer expressway, which is intended to enhance the socio-economic integration with Djibouti and neighboring countries, state news agency ENA reported.
The report attracted attention in Egypt with top officials denouncing the comments.
"Egypt on Monday condemned the remarks of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on plans to build several dams in his country, saying Ethiopia continues to show 'bad faith' and 'disregard international law rules'," Egypt Today reported.
A top-notch Ethiopian hydraulic and agriculture development expert who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media in his capacity as a government employee, said Egyptian officials and the media got the whole issue wrong.
"The prime minister's statement did not say which rivers in Ethiopia would be used for small and medium scale dams for irrigation,” he said, before adding that Ethiopia is endowed with immense irrigation potential from its many rivers that have been flowing largely untapped.
"Ethiopia, a country of more than 110 million people, has only utilized less than 10% of its irrigation potentials," he said.
Egypt was either easily triggered because of hegemonic interest in the waters of the Nile River or it was deliberately trying to twist Abiy’s remarks to misinform the international community, he opined.
Ethiopia has been building a huge $5 billion hydro dam on the Nile River since 2011 to generate 6,375 megawatts of electricity.
It hopes to impound 18.5 billion cubic meters (4,887 gallons) of water at the dam's reservoir, which would be an early phase filling enough to enable the hydro scheme to operate two turbines this rainy season from June to August.
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