File Photo: This satellite image shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. AP
The Ethiopian minister pointed out in a statement that Ethiopia "has provided more opportunities for Egypt and Sudan to benefit from the dam, despite their failure to appreciate it," stressing that Ethiopia will use its resources, without causing any significant harm to the downstream countries.
The Ethiopian minister’s remarks came in contrary to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s previous statements that Ethiopia should have started the GERD talks in October but has delayed it due to the war in the Tigray region.
Egypt and Sudan have always blamed the failure of the talks on the Ethiopian “intransigence” that was also the reason for the latest round of talks between the three countries over the GERD in Kinshasa to reach a deadlock, leading to the collapse of the talks.
Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty previously said that throughout the decade-long negotiations, Egypt had proposed 15 scenarios, each of which guaranteed that GERD would continue to generate at least 80 per cent of its electricity output even during the worst droughts, and Ethiopia rejected them all.
Egyptian Parliament Speaker Hanafy Gebaly made it clear in July that Egypt has never stood against its brothers’ right to development; however, it rejects any infringement of its Nile water rights.
For the Ethiopian minister, according to the Saturday statement, Egypt’s only outstanding issue is that it demands from Ethiopia to release water from the GERD whenever drought occurs, meaning that even if it does not rain in Ethiopia, it must release water from the dam.
Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry Spokesman Mohamed Ghanem previously said that Egypt was never against the filling of GERD’s 74 bcm reservoir but wanted the process to be flexible while Addis Ababa continued to insist on a fixed timetable, regardless of whether there was plenty of water or drought.
The Ethiopian minister added that Egypt should "encourage" his country to finish building GERD as soon as possible, as both countries should cooperate in exploiting their resources to face the drought season "whether it occurs tomorrow or even after several years" given that “the dam is a life line and a water bank for Egypt as well”.
Meanwhile, on Monday, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s will to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD during a meeting with his Djiboutian counterpart Ismail Omar Guelleh in Cairo.
El-Sisi stressed Egypt’s willingness to reach a GERD deal within "an appropriate timeframe” in a manner that enhances regional security and stability, based on the rules of law and the decisions of the Security Council.
Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for 10 years now to reach a legally binding agreement that regulates the rules of filling and operating the dam, a proposal that has been repeatedly turned down by Ethiopia.
Egypt fears the unilateral filling and operation of the dam would have an impact on its water supply and Sudan is concerned about regulating flows to its own dams and their safety.