GERD construction enters final phase: Ethiopian deputy PM

Ahram Online , Saturday 6 Jan 2024

Construction on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) entered its final phase, according to Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, who added that the construction of the dam has currently reached 94.6 percent.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam


Mekonnen is also the Chairperson of the GERD Executive Committee Coordinating National Council.

Meanwhile, satellite images taken on Thursday, corroborate Mekonnen’s statements.

The images reveal that Ethiopia began the process of raising the height of one of the GERD’s spillways, located in the centre of the dam, according to Al-Arabiya

Abbas Sharaki, professor of geology and water resources at Cairo University, told Al-Arabiya that water stopped flowing over the spillway on 15 December after the two drainage gates were opened.

He pointed out that the water reserve in the dam lake decreased by more than one billion cubic metres to less than 40 billion cubic metres.

The fourth and final round of tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the dam unsuccessfully concluded in December.

Egypt's Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources placed the blame for the failure of talks on the persistent Ethiopian rejection of any of the proposed technical or legal solutions that would safeguard the interests of all parties, including Addis Ababa itself.

The ministry also highlighted Ethiopia's consistent backtracking on the previously agreed-upon understandings.

At the time, the ministry asserted that Egypt would closely monitor the filling and operation of the GERD and reserves its right, under international charters and accords, to defend its water and national security in the event of harm.

The first round of talks was held in Cairo in August, the second in Addis Ababa in September, and the third in Cairo in October.

The talks – the first since negotiations sponsored by the African Union collapsed in April 2021 – were held as part of an agreement reached in mid-July to agree on the rules of filling and operating the GERD within four months.

For more than a decade of negotiations, Egypt and Sudan have been seeking a legally binding agreement governing the filling and operating of the dam that ensures their water security and own dams' safety along with the interests of Ethiopia.

Egypt, which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs, fears that the dam will harm the country’s already scarce water supply.

Egypt’s annual share of water is 560 cubic metres per person, cabinet figures show, placing the country well below the international threshold for water scarcity.

According to the UN, a population faces water scarcity when annual water supplies drop below 1,000 cubic metres per person.

Egypt needs up to 114 billion cubic metres while it receives 60 on average, coming mostly from the Nile and underground water.

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