Egypt PM says electricity as important to Ethiopia as water is to Egypt

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Addis Ababa, 3 May 2014 (WIC) – Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab acknowledged the importance of power generation in Ethiopia.

In an interview with Al-Ahram's Arabic newspaper on Friday, Mahlab said electricity is as important to Ethiopia as water is to Egypt.

The interim PM’s remark comes amid a stain in relations between Ethiopia and Egypt following the launching of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Nile River three years ago.

Ethiopia aims to satisfy domestic power demands when the 6000MW dam starts generating electricity with surplus power for export.

Despite assurance from Ethiopia that the water would only be used for electricity generation, Egypt fears reduced flow of water downstream. After a stall in tripartite talks, which also involved Sudan, the two countries are now expressing keen interest to continue dialogues.

Addressing House of Peoples Representatives last week, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn urged Egypt to avoid “unnecessary noise” and return to tripartite talks with Ethiopia and Sudan, the immediate downstream country which officially backed the construction of the dam.

In his interview conducted in Arabic, Mahlab said improving relations with Ethiopia could lead to better results in dialogues adding that Ethiopia's development is not against Egypt's national security.

The GERD, Africa’s biggest dam whose construction is currently 31 percent complete, is expected to start generating power from two units next year.