Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan Agree on “Step by Step” Filling of GERD

By Staff Reporter

Trump-GERDJanuary 16, 2020 ( -- In their latest talks in Washington DC, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) shall take place step by step and based on the flow and volume of the Nile River.

The water ministers of the three countries, in a joint statement issued at the end of their meeting, confirmed their consent that the filling of the dam shall take place only during the rainy season and the filling period can be extended based on environmental circumstances.

It is not clear why and how Egypt and Ethiopia changed their instances on the filling and operations of the dam after their water ministers met U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House on Tuesday. It is also not clear if the current agreement merely pushes the decision to later years or, as some Ethiopians fear, this is a tacit admission by Ethiopian negotiators to relax the filling beyond the 4-7 years range Ethiopia had always insisted.

It is to be recalled that Ethiopia and Egypt blamed each other following the fourth and last US-mediated trilateral ministerial technical meeting in Addis Ababa which ended in serious disagreement.

The Addis Ababa talks witnessed Egypt’s aggressive new demands requiring, among other things, Ethiopia to fill the dam in 12-21 years even though Ethiopia planned to fill the dam in 4–7 years depending on the flow of Blue Nile and drought mitigation measures are taken into considerations.

Egypt's proposal stressed the natural flow on the Blue Nile River must not be compromised and obliges Ethiopia to compensate for the cumulative deficit of the water it uses for dam filling.

Critics say the filling of the dam could take more than ten years if the activity is to be done during only rainy seasons, generally from July to August, and will continue in September subject to certain conditions.

Ethiopia Ambassador to US, Fitsum Arega, tweeted that foreign Ministers of the three countries held a productive discussion on the filling of GERD during their ministerial meeting brokered by the United States and the World Bank.

The US Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank participated as observers at the meeting in Washington that aims to resolve deference on the filling and operation of the dam.

According to the statement, the initial filling stage of the dam will provide for rapid achievement of 595 meters above sea level and the early generation of electricity, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts during this stage.

The subsequent stages of filling will be done according to a mechanism to be agreed that determines release based upon the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the level of the GERD that addresses the filling goals of Ethiopia and provides electricity generation and appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during prolonged periods of dry years, drought and prolonged drought, the joint statement reads.

The Ministers agreed to meet again in Washington D.C. on January 28-29 to finalize a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

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