GERD to be beneficial for all, Ethiopia not planning to harm neighbours: PM Ahmed

Amr Kandil , Saturday 15 Jul 2023

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asserted that the contentious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will provide "great benefits" to all parties, stressing that Ethiopia does not want to cause any harm to the downstream countries.

Archival photo of the GERD. AFP

In a statement posted on Twitter today, Ahmed sent a message of reassurance stating that Addis Ababa “does not plan to cause any harm to sisterly Nile Basin countries.”

He also stressed that Ethiopia will continue to share the “divine gift” of the river Nile.

“For thousands of years, Ethiopia has been committed to sharing the river Nile with the downstream countries with integrity and trust. Therefore, let our brothers know that Ethiopia's will to honour this commitment has never been stronger,” the Ethiopian PM said.       

Furthermore, Ahmed noted that holding sufficient quantities of Nile water to help all parties in case of any upcoming droughts constitutes one of GERD’s great benefits.

'True partnership'

In his statement, Ahmed said that Egypt and Ethiopia should cooperate to achieve sustainable development.

“Our development needs are redoubling due to population growth, which urges Egypt and Ethiopia to work together to achieve sustainable development and build a true partnership,” he said.

The Ethiopian PM added that such a partnership between Egypt and Ethiopia should achieve the aspirations of their two peoples towards sustainable development and decent life.

In this regard, Ahmed praised “the wise leadership of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his strenuous efforts in the field of construction and development in Egypt.”

He added that Ethiopia’s “permanent communication with the downstream countries, and their leaders, truly reflects our (Ethiopia’s) keenness to foster the relations of brotherhood and cooperation between us.”

Finalising GERD deal

Ahmed’s remarks come only two days following his meeting with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo Wednesday evening on the sidelines of the Sudan Neighbouring States Summit.

In a joint statement following the meeting, both leaders stressed that they were committed to exerting all efforts to reach a deal on the GERD dispute within four months.

The Ethiopian prime minister stressed that Ethiopia was committed to not harming Egypt and Sudan's water share during the fourth filling of GERD, indicating that the filling of the dam would be carried out in a manner that does not jeopardize both countries’ interests in the water, the statement added.

Earlier in July, PM Ahmed announced in a speech at the Ethiopian House of Representatives that the fourth filling of GERD would be extended to the end of August or early September – instead of early August as previously planned – to accommodate the needs and concerns of the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.

During that speech, Ahmed also announced that Ethiopia was ready to resume talks with Egypt and Sudan to resolve the dispute over the GERD.

Tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa have continued for years as Ethiopia kept filling and operating the dam unilaterally despite the concerns of the two downstream countries.

Egypt has repeatedly affirmed that it does not object to development in Ethiopia.

However, it called on Ethiopia to sign a legally-binding agreement on filling and operating the dam to spare the downstream countries any potential harm to their people and water interests.

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