By Staff Reporter
March 11, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia is to come up with a new proposal on the filling and operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which will be tabled for discussion shortly with the downstream countries of the Nile.
The new proposal is drafted jointly by members of the Ethiopian negotiating group, water engineers from different universities and legal experts drawn from the federal attorney general and ministry of foreign affairs.
A PR expert in the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy told Ezega.com that Ethiopia’s new proposal will be tabled for discussion with Egypt and Sudan but others members of Nile basin countries can participate if they are interested to.
It is not clear why Ethiopia wanted to bring in a new proposal on the filling of the GERD's reservoir.
“The new proposal is prepared in a way that will protect Ethiopia’s natural right on the use of the Nile waters and in line with international laws and ensures the benefits of the downstream countries,” he said
The Ethiopian government wants the African Union to involve in the mediating of future GERD talks after the US and World Bank have failed to be neutral in the last rounds of negotiations brokered by themselves.
Ethiopia said it will commence the filling of the GERD’s reservoir next July, a move Egypt gravely opposes.
In an interview with local TV show, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Engineer Sileshi Bekele reassured that Ethiopia will commence the first filling of the GERD in parallel with the construction of the dam, in accordance with the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, and causing no significant harm.
Egypt claimed that Ethiopia pledged in the Declaration of Principles, signed by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in March 2015, not to start filling the dam until an agreement is reached on the operation rules.
Ethiopia, an upstream Nile Basin country, started building the GERD in 2011 on the Blue Nile, while downstream Egypt is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water.
Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years. Egypt seeks to prolong the period to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is the main point of the talks.
It argues the filling shall take place in an extended period like up to 21 years as opposed to Ethiopia’s plan to finish the filling in seven years at a maximum.
The GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa's largest hydropower dam upon completion.
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