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Will Ethiopia’s Proposed Dam Crush Egypt’s Economy?

Predictions show the dam halving Egypt's per capita water consumption in the coming years.

by
Ahmed Kamel

Bio

June 20, 2013 - 12:40 am
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As Ethiopia’s planned Grand Renaissance Dam reduces Egypt’s share of Nile waters, repercussions will inevitably hit Egypt’s cash-strapped economy.

Rational use of water reserves at Nasser Lake, estimated at 70 billion cubic meters, may help ease the situation for a while. The government may also have groundwater resources that may add four billion cubic meters. But according to government estimates, Egypt will need an extra 32 billion cubic meters of water  by 2050 as its population grows.

Egypt gets more than 95 percent of its water from the Nile, and already suffers from water scarcity — supplies have fallen to 750 cubic meters per capita a year. (The international average is 1,000.) Egypt’s current share of Nile water totals 55.5 billion cubic meters — experts say the share may be halved over the coming three years until a lake is created in front of the Ethiopian dam, and supplies may fall below 400 cubic meters per capita in the interim period.

The most populous Arab country with 90 million inhabitants, Egypt has 8 million cultivated acres of land. Roughly 6.5 million people work in agriculture, accounting for 25 percent of the country’s labor force. Any shrinking of the agricultural sector will ultimately affect labor. Unemployment in Egypt is currently reported at 13 percent, but unofficial reports put the actual rate over 20 percent.

Egypt consumes around 18 million tons of wheat and 4 million tons of rice annually, according to the Supply Ministry. It imports roughly 10 million tons of grain a year to meet growing demand. As the country’s population grows by 1.2 million annually, the water-supply gap may jump to 20 million tons as local grain harvest declines. Total cultivated land may plummet by half due to falling water resources.

Urbanization in the Nile Delta and scarcity of water will reduce the country’s crop output. Consequently, the country’s bill of food imports will be on the rise. Egypt is expected to consume more than 19 million tons of wheat in the fiscal year 2012-2013 that ends on June 30, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The gap between grain imports and exports may widen in the future.

Most of the wheat imports are allocated for subsidized bread, which is expected to total around $2.3 billion of the country’s budget in the fiscal year 2012-2013 according to the Finance Ministry. More than 40 percent of Egypt’s population lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. With a deteriorating macroeconomic outlook, future governments would not be able to sustain subsidy schemes.

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All Comments   (25)
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Build baby Build
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
In all of the prior postings -- left unsaid -- is that Egypt (and Libya) have desert lands sitting atop MASSIVE aquifers -- underground water lenses -- that can be 2,000 feet thick.

This fossil water is a legacy of the Nile -- and the great swamp fed by the Nile headwaters in Southern Sudan. For there is a staggering fault in the Earth's crust that reaches miles deep -- and is now filled, mostly, with Nile silt. And through that silt, hydraulic pressure has fed water into the porous strata below the Sahara for thousands of years.

So, neither Libya nor Egypt need to pull water from the sea. Merely drilling under the sand will do. The pressure -- from below -- is so great that the water typically bubbles up on its own.

Surveys indicate that this super deposit covers essentially all of the land starting 100 kM west of the Nile.

This situation has been know for quite some time. Consequently, nothing has been done about it -- Cairo has its priorities.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately these aquifers are already being drawn from at far higher than replacement rate. The result of this will be salinization of the top soil and the resultant creation of vast areas of previously arable land incapable of supporting agriculture. Short term fix at best leading to catastrophic long term problems.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
And how do you make electricity with that?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Egypt is the cradle of civilization w/ unparalleled ancient monuments. Plus the are 5 hours from Europe where people love that kind of stuff. It is the cultural capital of the Arab world -- cinema and tv are created there. More tourists would go if they did not fear getting the Lara Logan treatment. Once you get our of Cairo, roving bandits kidnap tourists and unarmed locals. Right next door Israel is rockin and it ain't because they got more water.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bio
"Ahmed Kamel is a Cairo-based economic analyst" ..Why would PJ Media echo the opinion of an individual who obviously isn't neutral to the situation at hand?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is no answer to the water problems of the world except desalination plants around West Asia, North Africa. The Nile and Jordan, Euphrates, the Ganges and the Yellow Rivers, plus the others, on and on and on.....will simply not supply Asia's and Africa's growing population. Will the ultra rich Saudi's supply desalinated water to neighbors? Fat chance. They can't remain rich when oil dries up in the next decades.

Population control....birth control is the best answer. China's draconian Family Planning was and remains a necessity. Perhaps the whole of Africa should think along those strictly enforced lines. You know they won't. Muslims won't practice that.

So, we in all of North America will be the New Eden-equivalent; Europe will be overrun with desperate refugees seeking water and ways to support themselves.

This is the existential, long range threat to North America. Australia is already short of water. They can't handle any influx of more Asians.

Wonder if we Westerners can cope with this looming threat? The accustomed boatloads of American cash won't fix this.

Don't look at us...anymore.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good! Let the agriculture in Egypt die then sell them American wheat and corn at market prices IF and only if their gubmint renounces Sharia law, passes a secular Constitution, and actively pursues and kills terrorists.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
BLERT and FAIL BURTON have delineated the problem nicely, with one exception. As far as I know, the current priority allocation of Nile water to Egypt is an artifact of a late 1800's decree by the British Raj. As I understand it, the rest of the countries in the Nile drainage, except Egypt [including the Sudan] got together some years ago and formally renounced the decree. Egypt being at the dry end of the stick, is kinda scrod.

Egypt's military options are fairly non-existent. It would, as noted, take conquering the Sudan to get the dam site within range of Egyptian forces. While I have no doubt that Obama would be glad to subsidize such, there is the detail that the Aswan High Dam is also a target for the upstream states. If it goes, they will find Cairo somewhere in the middle of the Nile Delta.

If I had my druthers, we would be helping pay for and build the Ethiopian dam. Since such is not possible, the best alternative for us would be to make popcorn and watch with more than passing amusement. I think I have some recipes for upscale popcorn variants I think I will look up.

Oh, and we need to tell Morsi that Allah will provide, and not us.

Subotai Bahadur
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The British Raj is India. The colonial treaty Egypt usually invokes in a 1929 one, and also one from '59.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Egypt’s share of Nile waters” - who granted that share? An old colonial arrogance that didn’t even bother to consider any other countries along the Nile river but 2 (Egypt and Sudan)?

“Egypt will need an extra 32 billion cubic meters of water by 2050 as its population grows” – what gives Egypt the authority to plan 37 years to the future at the expense of a resource 2 countries away from it?

“Egypt gets more than 95 percent of its water from the Nile, and already suffers from water scarcity” – Egypt 937 Cu. Meter , Ethiopia 80.48Cu. Meter what makes you think Ethiopia needs to keep limited at less than 1/10 th of Egypt’s water per capita?

If you want to be taken seriously learn to be impartial in your reporting!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please learn to read.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read very well. And from what I read there isn't a single instance in this article that tries to juxtapose Ethiopia's needs as well. The title of the article itself is evident that the writer is busy trying to stengthen his opinion instead of putting the facts out there and let the readers decide for themselves!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
It can't help their economy, especially with the Muslim Brotherhood working towards the same end. Stupid people.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Egypt's population to rise to 105 million by 2025?
Maybe; more likely famine will reduce the population to a more manageable 40 million.
Ethiopia will probably increase their use of Blue Nile water for irrigation as their population increases, making things even worse for Egypt.
Desalination? Maybe but that is extremely energy intensive, Egypt has a moribund economy unlike Israel, also about 12 times as many people. The truth is that Egypt is FUBAR and is going to crash, the result will not be pretty, Egyptians will go from hungry to starving very soon.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Palestinian terrorist Yassir Arafat was right calling the womb of the Muslim women the most powerful weapon.

Soon this weapon will destroy Egypt.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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