South Sudan on the verge of making Nile dam dream come true, minister says

South Sudan plans to fulfill a nearly decade-long dream of building a large dam along the Nile in a bid to provide cheap and reliable electricity and help prevent devastating flooding, the said. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country. The National.

The youngest country in the world is plagued by flooding, a lack of electricity, a shortage of water and poor infrastructure, but the project is part of the government’s oil-funded plan to address its many ailments, the minister said in Juba ahead of the 10th anniversary of independence.

“It is a strategic plan of the country, the government has a plan to build a dam for the production of electricity and electricity because you cannot have a country without industrialization,” Deng Dau Deng Malek said from his time. office in the center of the capital of South Sudan.

“Look at the country today, most of South Sudan is flooded as we speak. Upper Nile State is under water. We have not had the opportunity as a country to reflect and plan. You look at the needs of the people, you look at the growing industries, ”he said.

We have not had the opportunity as a country to reflect and plan. You look at the needs of the population. You Watch Growing Industries – Mr. Malek

Mr Malek, who was appointed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit in 2018, said the Irrigation Ministry had been tasked with starting initial studies to help develop plans – including the height of the dam, the size of the reservoir behind the structure and the number of turbines it could power.

“We will take into account, during the construction of the dam, the environmental impact and the hydrological aspect. You look at the sustainability of it, you look at the neighborhood, you can’t do it overnight. You also anticipate any problems that might arise, ”he said.

South Sudan came into being as a country ten years ago following a referendum of limitless ambitions – including the construction of these large hydroelectric dams – but sank into civil war two years later.

The fighting killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced nearly 3 million people, but also halted projects such as the construction of a dam and stopped or severely delayed other attempts at reconstruction in the area. water and irrigation. In 2018, the belligerents signed a peace deal and now say they are focusing on repairing the country.

“We have been kept at war for many years. From 2013 until today there is still fighting – we have just made a peace deal now. We are trying to restructure and see how the country can move, ”he said.

Water experts, however, say the dam project has also been delayed due to unreasonable scope and inadequate early planning.

South Sudan is located on the borders of Ethiopia to the east, and Sudan and Egypt to the north.

Through the country flows the White Nile – one of the two main tributaries feeding the Nile which meets and mixes near Khartoum with the Blue Nile which flows from the Ethiopian highlands.

Seasonal rains hit South Sudan’s 10 states for at least seven months of the year, sending huge cascades of water into the White Nile, but also causing devastating flooding.

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“It is a sovereign right”

Ethiopia’s $ 5 billion Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, soon to be Africa’s largest hydropower project, has caused friction with its downstream neighbors Sudan and Egypt.

On whether the dam proposed by South Sudan could also cause problems with Sudan and Egypt, Malek echoed his counterparts in Addis Ababa saying it was their prerogative to ” use the water resource.

It is our sovereign right. But the water of the Nile is shared. This will be done in collaboration with Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt – Mr. Malek

Addressing the stalemate between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors over its mega dam project, Malek called for cooperation and dialogue.

“The water of the Nile should not be a curse but a peaceful commodity given by God to the region. Our point of view, as a government, we encourage Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to discuss and have a better dialogue to reach acceptable solutions. To adapt to what Ethiopia wants to do for generations to come, but also to adapt to the fears of Sudan and the fears of Egypt. “

While Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has said the country will take all necessary measures to protect its national security, he called for keeping a cool head in the face of threats of military action against Ethiopia to stop filling the dam. without a lasting deal.

Mr Malek said military solutions should never be the answer.

“Any source of water can cause a problem for most of these countries, but we are not pushing for a military solution to the crisis – that shouldn’t be the answer to that,” he said. .

Plans in Juba to, indeed, take the keys to the gates of another dam on the Nile could upset officials downstream.

Egyptian officials did not respond to requests for comment on the draft. The National.

But Sudanese Irrigation Ministry spokesman Osama Abu Shanab said, “This is the first time I’ve heard of it. I have not received any information on dam construction projects in South Sudan. They would have notified us if they had such plans. South Sudan will not implement plans to build dams on the White Nile without first informing us and the Egyptians. “

“We have the money”

A major issue for a large infrastructure project will always be funding. This issue will be particularly urgent for South Sudan given that despite the agreement to end the civil war, it is still under crippling international sanctions.

Senior government officials have also been hit with sanctions from the United States for human rights violations and corruption.

Mr. Malek denounced the movements.

“As for sanctions, in our opinion, they are a tool that has been used to intimidate and affect the population. If you keep imposing sanctions, more rebellions will come to overthrow the government today, because they will think, since the UN and America impose sanctions on this government, so let’s remove it, let’s fight the government ”, a- he declared.

He said South Sudan plans to seek foreign investment to help build the dam, mainly from China.

He added that China had been the country’s main foreign investor for the past decade, with huge joint ventures launched by the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

Ultimately, however, he insisted that the oil revenues give his country the money to build the great dam on the Nile, even if it remains poor with little or no infrastructure.

“We have vast national resources. We have oil, mineral deposits, forests, agriculture, livestock and human resources – we have the money.



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