Massive hydroelectric dams are under construction in Africa. Private international investors, the World Bank, China and African governments have invested in colossal dams, located at the source of the Nile.
These dams could have serious counter-development consequences on the local communities: population displacement, dredging and pollution. More worryingly, they are creating tension in the delicate power balance on the African continent.
Water is a sensitive and vital issue for the region. There is a decade-long complex dispute involving Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, all countries which depend on the river’s waters. As tensions over water increase, geopolitical shifts are being played out along the longest river in Africa, where nearly 300 million people rely on its waters to survive.
For Ethiopians, half of whose population does not yet have access to electricity, this dam is a source of hope. It will provide electricity to two-thirds of its 115 million inhabitants. The country even hopes to become an electricity exporter and be able to supply its neighbours, Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea and South Sudan.
The dispute threatens to destabilise an already fragile region. The main issue is who controls the waters of the Nile. The failure of negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt could have dramatic consequences on the region and the rest of the world.