The Eastern Nile Basin is facing a number of transboundary issues, including water resources development, and the associated impacts. The Nile Basin, particularly the Eastern Nile Sub-basin, is considered as one of a few international river systems of potential conflicts between riparian countries. The Eastern Nile is characterized by the high dependency of downstream countries on river water generated in upstream countries, with limited or no contribution to the runoff itself. The aim of this paper is to analyze optimal scenarios for water resources management in the Eastern Nile with regard to hydropower generation and irrigation development. A hydro-economic optimization model based on Genetic Algorithm has been used to determine the maximum benefits for two scenarios: (i) non-cooperative management of hydraulic infrastructure by the riparian countries (status quo), and (ii) cooperative water resources management among the riparian countries. The hydro-economic model is developed using a Genetic Algorithm and deterministic optimization approach covering all hydraulic infrastructures in the Eastern Nile, existing and planned, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The results show that cooperative management yields an increase in hydro-energy returns for all countries compared to the status quo, with a very high increase in Ethiopian’s returns, as expected. Non-cooperative system management would negatively impact the hydro-energy of Egypt compared to the cooperative management (reduced by 11%), without a significant increase of hydro-energy for Ethiopia. For Sudan, the results show that hydropower generation benefits from the presence of GERD, in both management scenarios. Non-cooperative management of the system, along with the internal trade-off between irrigation and hydropower facilities, would negatively impact irrigation supply in Sudan. The findings support the argument of positive impact of GERD development on the three Eastern Nile riparian countries, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, provided that the three countries agree to manage the system cooperatively.
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