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Ethiopia to present technical proposal on filling GERD reservoir

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Sep 2019
GERD
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Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy has announced that the country will submit a technical proposal on filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's (GERD) reservoir, Ethiopian news agency ENA reported on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Sileshi Bekele also said that two of the dam's turbines will go operational in December 2020.

Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian ministers held a meeting on 15 and 16 September in Cairo to discuss the dam issue following the establishment of a new Sudanese government.

This latest round of talks between the foreign ministers of the three countries came after negotiations stalled nearly one year ago. 

In Wednesday's meeting, Ethiopia rejected a proposal by Egypt on operating the $4 billion hydropower dam being built on the Nile, further deepening a dispute between the two nations over the project, which Egypt fears will reduce its share of Nile water.

During the Wednesday press conference in Addis Ababa, Minister Bekele described Egypt’s plan, including the volume of water it wants the dam to release annually, as “inappropriate.”

The GERD, announced in 2011, is designed to be the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt and Ethiopia disagree over the annual flow of water that should be guaranteed to Egypt and how to manage flows during droughts.

Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 percent of its fresh water and wants the GERD’s reservoir to release a higher volume of water than Ethiopia is willing to guarantee, among other disagreements.

“An Egyptian expert cannot control our dam,” Sileshi said, and described the Egyptian plan as a potential violation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

Sileshi did not say how much water Ethiopia wants to release, but Egypt wants the dam to release a minimum of 40 billion cubic metres of water from the GERD annually.

Following construction delays, Ethiopia has said that the GERD will start power production by the end of 2020 and will be fully operational by 2022.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are scheduled to meet in October in Khartoum for another round of talks to discuss the filling and operation of the mega-dam, Egypt's Ministry of Irrigation said on Monday.

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