Ethiopia completes second-year filling of mega-dam,the Blue Nile

Ethiopia completes second-year filling of mega-dam on the Blue Nile

Ethiopia on Monday announced the completion of its second-year target of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir on the Blue Nile River even as tensions with Egypt and Sudan have escalated.

Taking to Twitter, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy, announced that the second-year filling of the dam was completed ahead of schedule as the country witnessed heavy rains in recent days.

“This year also we are experiencing extreme rainfall in the Abbay Basin(Blue Nile Basin). As a result, the GERD reservoir has filled rapidly. GERD is an Ethiopian hydropower dam and guardian infrastructure asset for the downstream countries against climate change. It is also a means to develop further and prosper together, it can never be a treat,” the minister said in his tweets.

With this development, the Ethiopian government asserted that it can now operate two turbines at the mega hydroelectric dam.

Dispute with Egypt, Sudan

Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have not been able to reach a trilateral agreement to resolve their dispute over the GERD project despite several rounds of negotiations between leaders, ministers, and experts from the three African nations over the years.

While Ethiopia has maintained that the dam will boost its developmental projects and standard of living for the citizens, Egypt and Sudan have expressed their disagreement with the project. The two downstream countries have stated that the dam would affect their share of the river waters.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also lashed out at the Ethiopian government over the filling of the dam. He further called on international intervention into the dispute to safeguard his country’s rights in the river water.

Call for international intervention

Last week, Egypt and Sudan urged the UN Security Council to call for a legally binding agreement between the three nations to resolve the dispute with Ethiopia over the GERD dam. On the contrary, the Ethiopian government stated that the African Union is well-equipped to solve the matter and is ably facilitating the negotiations.

“Ethiopia believes an agreement is within reach, given the necessary political will and the commitment to negotiate in good faith,” Ethiopia’s water minister told the Security Council.

As per reports by Ethiopia’s state media, the $5 billion dams is about 80 percent complete and is expected to begin operation by the year 2023. It would be Africa’s largest and the world’s seventh-largest hydroelectric powerplant.