Ethiopia determined to complete GERD, says its PM, despite Egypt, Sudan's objections

Ahram Online , Monday 8 Jun 2020

Abiy Ahmed speaks
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a news conference at his office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 1, 2019. REUTERS

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Monday that his country is determined to complete its dam project, despite the objections Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly voiced. 

On 1 May, Egypt sent a memo to the Security Council blaming Ethiopia for trying to establish a deal without taking the interests of downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, into consideration.

The Ethiopian premier’s statement came during the question-and-answer session at the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) on Monday, reported by the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

“We are tired of begging and the desire to develop does not mean we have intentions to harm other countries,” ENA quoted Ahmed as saying. 

Ahmed asserted that roughly 50 million Ethiopians don’t have access to clean water and electricity, and completing the dam project will help in fulfilling the basic rights of Ethiopians, “like that of Egypt,” the ENA reported.

Ahmed argues that upon completion, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will have pivotal importance to Egypt, Sudan and the entire African continent.

The Ethiopian prime minister told parliament that the six years' delay in GERD construction has cost the county about $6 billion in addition to other expenditure, and it is estimated that the dam will generate $27 million per day and increase the total electricity access in Ethiopia to 50 percent.

On Monday, Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia Evgeny Terekhin expressed his country’s readiness to help Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia achieve a “mutually beneficial agreement” in the GERD negotiations during a meeting with the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gedu Andargachew.

The Ethiopian foreign minister welcomed the Russian initiative, ENA reported.

The tripartite negotiations reached a deadlock in February after Ethiopia skipped a final round of talks in Washington, leading to a diplomatic war of words between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

Egypt rejected, along with Sudan, an Ethiopian proposal put forth in April amid the ongoing discord, wherein Addis Ababa proposed a “partial agreement” that would only cover the first stage of the filling.

Egypt said it is ready for a revival of talks, but stressed the importance of "serious and constructive” talks between the three countries’ irrigation ministers to contribute to a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement that would preserve Egypt’s water rights and the interests of both Sudan and Ethiopia.

Some 85 percent of the Nile water that reaches Egypt flows from the Ethiopian highlands, mainly from the Blue Nile.

Egypt receives 55.5 billion cubic metres of water from the Nile annually, but requires over 80 billion cubic metres to cover its needs.

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