Ethiopia says it has started the next phase of filling a controversial mega-dam on the Nile River.
JULY 6, 2021
Ethiopia is undertaking the Second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
On Sunday, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy board and Ethiopia Electric Power authority were at the project site to evaluate the progress of the construction before the second filling, as disclosed by Seleshi Bekele, the Minister for Water, Irrigation and Energy.
Over 80 percent of GERD construction of the locally funded mega project is said to be completed according to the latest disclosure from the Ministry.
Mr. Seleshi Bekele has notified lower riparian countries in a letter written to relevant ministries.
According to a report by Ahram Online, Egypt categorically rejected what it called a unilateral second filling of the dam.
Egypt and Sudan have been pushing Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement, as they call it, before the second filling of the dam. Recently, the two countries requested the United Nations to pressure Ethiopia not to carry out the second filling of the dam before a binding agreement.
The UNSC is expected to meet Thursday this week to discuss the negotiation over GERD. Ethiopia, on her part, wrote to the UNSC asking for an end to politicization of a development project, GERD, as a security issue. Also, Ethiopia has asked the UNSC to put pressure on Sudan and Egypt to respect the African Union led negotiation process over the filling and operation of the dam.
The second filling of the dam is not something that violates the Declaration of Principle (DoP) agreement signed between the three countries in 2015, says Ethiopia. Egypt and Sudan see it differently.
Mohamed Abdel-Ati, Egyptian Irrigation Minister, is said to have sent a reply letter to his Ethiopian counterpart in which he said that Ethiopia categorically rejects the unilateral filling and that it see it a “blatant and dangerous” that violates international laws and norms as well as the 2015 agreement between the three countries, according to a report by Aharam.
Ethiopia is taking advantage of the rainy season with a hope to retain 13.9 billion cubic meters of water, which is needed to start early hydropower generation with two turbines.
Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development, but Egypt and Sudan fear it could restrict their citizens’ water access.
Both nations have been pushing Addis Ababa to ink a binding deal over the filling and operation of the dam, and have been urging the UN Security Council to take the matter up in recent weeks.
Thursday’s meeting was requested by Tunisia on Egypt and Sudan’s behalf, a diplomatic source told AFP.
But France’s ambassador to the UN said last week that the council itself can do little apart from bringing the sides together.
Addis Ababa had previously announced it would proceed to the second stage of filling in July, with or without a deal.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in one note to the UN that negotiations are at an impasse, and accused Ethiopia of adopting “a policy of intransigence that undermined our collective endeavors to reach an agreement.”
The Nile — which at some 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometres) is one of the longest rivers in the world — is an essential source of water and electricity for dozens of countries in East Africa.
Ethiopia broke ground on the 475-foot (145-metre) dam in 2011, and said that last year it reached its first target in the years-long filling of the dam.