Refer to “The coming affliction of the Nile” for part one of this story…

For background on this story from Biblical prophecy, see end of the post.

 

Egypt, which has claimed exclusive right to control the river's waters for generations, is fuming. (AFP)

Egypt, which has claimed exclusive right to control the river’s waters for generations, is fuming. (AFP)

Ethiopia’s bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile’s waters, and may help transform one of the world’s poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub.

By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. The electricity it will generate – enough to power a giant rich-world city like New York – can be exported across a power-hungry region.

But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardize Ethiopia’s dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025.

The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year. In the sandy floor of the Guba valley, near the Sudanese border, engineers are laying compacted concrete to the foundations of the barrage that will tower 145 meters high and whose turbines will throw out 6,000 megawatts – more than any other hydropower project in Africa.

So far, Ethiopia has paid 27 billion birr ($1.5 billion) out of a total projected cost of 77 billion birr for the dam, which will create a lake 246 km (153 miles) long.

It is the biggest part of a massive program of public spending on power, roads and railways in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Ethiopia’s output has risen at near double digit rates for a decade, luring investors from Sweden to China.

But economists warn that squeezing the private sector to pay for the public infrastructure could hurt future prospects. Growth is already showing signs of slowing.

Even so, Addis Ababa says the price is worth paying to guarantee Egypt has no veto over the dam, the centerpiece of a 25-year project to profit from East Africa’s accelerating economic growth by exporting electricity across the region.

“We did not want this dam to suffer from external pressures, particularly with respect to financing,” said Fekahmed Negash, a director within Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy.

Diplomacy Recast

Ethiopia’s transformation from an economic disaster barely able to feed its people into an emerging regional leader capable of self-financing mega-projects has recast diplomacy over the Nile, northeast Africa’s most important resource.

Egypt, which has claimed exclusive right to control the river’s waters for generations, is fuming. Cairo worries the dam will reduce the flow on which it has depended for drinking water and irrigation for thousands of years.

It has demanded building be halted pending negotiations between the countries, and had offered to take on joint ownership of the project, an offer Addis Ababa dismissed.

Cairo no longer wields the same leverage it once did when upriver sub-Saharan countries were too poor to build such huge projects themselves.

Still, the dam’s cost of more than $4 billion is roughly 12 percent of the annual output of Ethiopia, a steep price to pay for a country spurning outside help.

Ethiopia has resorted to measures like forcing banks that lend to private borrowers to lend the equivalent of 27 percent of their loan books to the government at a low return, effectively a tax on private lending.

Along with other projects, the dam is draining so much financing from the economy that private investors’ access to credit and foreign exchange is being jeopardized, hurting growth, the International Monetary Fund says.

The IMF forecast in November that output growth would slow to 7.5 percent this fiscal year from 8.5 percent in 2011/12, and said the economy needed restructuring to encourage private sector investment now crowded out by huge public projects.

Ethiopia needs high growth to fulfill plans to lift its population out of deep poverty. Per capita income was still just $410 in 2012, the World Bank says.

The government disputes the view that lavish public spending is hurting overall economic performance, and forecasts a higher growth rate than the IMF.

Italy’s biggest construction firm, Salini Impregilo, which is building the dam, says all payments have been made on time so far and it has no worries about Addis Ababa continuing to come up with the needed billions.

“We have full confidence in the government of Ethiopia,” the firm said in an e-mail to Reuters.

And the dam is just the start for Ethiopia’s ambition of becoming a regional power hub. A government plan seen by Reuters would see Africa’s second most populous nation target installed capacity of 37,000 MW within 25 years – far more than the World Bank’s estimate of just 28,000 MW for the entire current output of sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa.

More dams are being built and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is fast securing deals to sell power abroad.

In the Ministry of Energy, a building whose stark design is a throwback to when communists ran Ethiopia’s economy into the ground, a poster maps Ethiopia’s energy goals.

From a dot on the Nile, lines run north through Sudan and across the Sahara desert as far as Morocco while extending southwards to South Africa, linking Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and other power-hungry economies.

Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan already take 180 MW, which, though a small amount so far, is already changing the economics of electricity in the region, Ethiopian officials say.

“Before it started getting power from Ethiopia, Djibouti’s tariff was 30 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. We are selling to them at 6 cents,” said Mekuria Lemma, corporate planning chief at Ethiopia’s state-run power corporation, EEPCO.

Kenya has signed an agreement to buy about 400 MW. Rwanda too inked a deal in March to take 400 MW by 2018 and a similar arrangement with Tanzania is expected. Beyond Africa, talks are expected over supplying 900 MW to Yemen via an undersea cable.

National Security

As long as Ethiopia spurns outside funding, there seems to be little an angry Cairo can now do to stop the dam.

The sparkling streams at the foot of Ethiopia’s Mount Gish spill into Lake Tana from where the Blue Nile meanders gently towards Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, where it joins the White Nile and flows north through Egypt and drains into the Mediterranean.

Among Cairo’s worries is concern that years of filling the new dam’s 74 billion cubic meter reservoir will temporarily cut the river’s flow, and that surface water evaporation from the huge new lake will then reduce it permanently.

“Water problems even without this dam are sky high,” said water expert Klaus Lanz in reference to Egypt’s shortage.

Egypt leans on a 1959 treaty with Sudan which hands Cairo the lion’s share of water. Some Egyptian politicians even urged military action last year against Ethiopia, raising concerns of a “water war”.

The public political bluster has died down, but Egyptian officials still refer to safeguarding their nation’s quota of the Nile’s flow as a matter of national security.

In a government white paper, Cairo calls the construction of the dam a “violation” of international legal principles, in particular the duty to prevent harm to other riparian nations.

“We have no other resources,” Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told Reuters. “So it’s not a joke. We will not allow our national interests, our national security … to be endangered.”

Limited Options

“We are still for cooperation, negotiation, but only serious negotiations, not to waste time,” Abdellaty added.

But distracted by militant violence and political turmoil at home, Cairo appears to have few levers with which to force Addis Ababa to halt the project. Ethiopian officials say the dam could be completed as early as 2016.

Ethiopia denies Egypt will suffer and complains that its northern neighbor has flexed its political muscle to deter financiers from backing other Ethiopian power projects.

Fekahmed of the water ministry said Cairo had influenced a decision by China’s Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co. to pull out of a $1 billion deal to connect the dam to the grid.

“The authorities in Egypt made a noise,” Fekahmed said, adding that another Chinese group was now lined up to fund the high voltage lines. Egypt’s Abdelatty did not comment on the specific case but confirmed that Cairo was trying to use its influence to push foreigners away from backing the project.

“We have contacts with everybody,” said Abdelatty. “(The minister) raised it with Russia, with China, you name it.”

In a diplomatic coup for Ethiopia, and a political blow to Egypt, the other major down river country, Sudan, has slowly warmed to the dam project and lifted its own earlier objections. Sudan may benefit from cheap power and irrigation water.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told Sky News Arabic this month he rejected a military solution and dismissed referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice, which would require the agreement of both sides.

Instead, Egypt continues to push hard for further studies on the dam’s design and impact on downstream countries. All the while, Ethiopia shows no sign of ordering the downing of tools.

“We will finish it whether they like it or not,” said a senior Ethiopian official who requested anonymity. “But of course, we will continue negotiating in the meantime.”

Last Update: Thursday, 24 April 2014 KSA 00:57 – GMT 21:57

The Prophecies

The event’s concerning the Nile are Bible prophecy in action.  There are at least 2 solid references in the Bible to the drying up of the Nile river in Egypt.  Let’s take a look at those:First, Isaiah talks about the end times and the coming of Jesus Christ:

11:1
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
As the Bible shows, Jesus Christ came from the root of Jesse, through King David down to Mary and Joseph.  The “Branch” that grows out of his root can refer to the Christian faith.
11:2
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
11:3
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
11:4
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, it states “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming
11:5
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Book of Revelations 19:11, 19:16 states “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war….And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Next, to show that we really are talking about the end-times, verses 6-9 talk about what it will be like after Christ returns:
11:6
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
11:7
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
11:9
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Next, we read that in the end-times (which assuredly we are in), the Lord recovers his remnant of the lost tribes of Israel to their land:
11:11
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
11:12
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Now to the verse referencing the Nile:
11:15
And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.
11:16
And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
Next, in the book of Zechariah, chapter 9 and 10, he prophecies about the coming of Jesus (first event) and what will happen at the end of time (second event):
9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Matthew 21:6-9 records And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.  And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10:6
And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.
10:10
I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them.
10:11
And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.
10:12
And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.
With these verses, we see that the Lord God told of these event’s happening because He knows the beginning from the end.  Just like all of the recent events making news about the Bible, this should be of comfort to Christians, knowing that with each passing event of prophecy fulfilled, we are one step closer to the return of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” — Revelation 22:20
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