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Ethiopia Begins Filling Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

By Staff Reporter

GERD-FillingJuly 16, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia has begun filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the country’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Sileshi Bekele has confirmed.

“The dam filling is now underway in conformity with the normal process of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” Dr. Sileshi told local media.

The Minister’s confirmation comes after the African Union (AU) led negotiation between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the filling and operation of the GERD ended without agreement.

The three countries negotiated virtually on the first filling and annual operations of the dam for the last couple of weeks as led by the Bureau of the African Union Assembly but ended without an agreement.

According to a press release issued by the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have held the trilateral negotiations in the presence of 11 observers including from the US and World Bank and augmented experts.

Despite some progress, no major breakthrough deal was made during the tripartite negotiation, the press release stated.

Ethiopia accused Egypt of deliberately obstructing the enduring tripartite negotiation as the talks have been continuing based on the principles of just and equitable use of Nile Waters.  

Ethiopia also claimed it is clearly exercising it's sovereign right on the utilization of the Nile River since the country is the largest contributor of Nile Waters whose people are still in poverty and darkness.

Egypt and Sudan have asked for clarification from the Ethiopian government if it began filling a day after the release of recent satellite images purporting to show the reservoir behind the dam was filling.

Sudan said water levels in the Blue Nile, the river’s main tributary on which the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built, have reduced by around 90 million cubic meters per day, suggesting the dam’s gates were shut.

Wednesday’s conflicting statements came after experts said it was rainwater rather than a deliberate action by Addis Ababa to fill the nearly completed $4.6 billion, 6,000-megawatt GERD on the Blue Nile.

Dr. Sileshi has acknowledged that the satellite images showing backing-up of the water behind the dam were accurate.

Both Khartoum and Cairo fear the GERD will threaten essential water supplies. However, Addis Ababa says the dam is indispensable for its development and insists it will not have significant harm on downstream countries.

The international law dictates that countries with Trans-boundary Rivers have the right to utilize their rivers within their territories on the basis of equitable and fair utilization.

The negotiating teams of the three countries at the AU are expected to present reports to be reviewed by the African Union (AU) and their respective leaders.  

The negotiation also is expected to reconvene after the report reviewed by the chairperson of AU, AU Bureau members, and the leaders of the three countries in accordance with their instructions.

Ethiopia stressed the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP) on GERD shall be respected in its entirety and call for cooperation based on good faith, international law, and mutual benefit.

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