Ethiopia says second filling of GERD complete

Mohamed Soliman , Monday 19 Jul 2021

The move has been carried out despite lack of agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS

Ethiopia announced on Monday that it has completed the second-year filling target of its disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), nearly two weeks after it started the process, which was carried out despite the lack of a legally binding agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

The upstream country did not announce the amount of water it has stored in the dam's reservoir, amid media reports that Addis Ababa failed to meet its target of 13.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water, holding only 3 bcm due to technical problems.

However, the Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said the retained amounts are sufficient to run two turbines of the hydropower dam, which has been under construction since 2011on the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile River, a crucial source of freshwater to Cairo and Khartoum.

"The second filling of the Renaissance dam has been completed and the water is overflowing," Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia's minister for water, irrigation and energy said on Monday.
"It means we have now the needed volume of the water to run the two turbines," he said in a Tweet."
Last summer, Ethiopia unilaterally retained 4.9 bcm of water in the GERD's reservoir, which has a capacity of 74 bcm.
On 6 July, Ethiopia commenced filling the GERD for the second year without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan, a step both downstream states view as necessary to secure their shares of the River Nile.

Cairo and Khartoum see eye to eye on the importance of securing a legal deal guaranteeing binding rules for filling and operating the Ethiopian dam in a manner that does not cause significant harm to the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples, who rely on the Nile as the main source of freshwater.

Ethiopia, which hopes the controversial multi-billion dollar hydropower dam will support its economic development goals, seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam's filling and operation rules that can be modified at any time at its discretion.

Tripartite negotiations faltered earlier this year after Ethiopia refused to include other mediators in the talks, as Egypt and Sudan requested, to help the African Union, the current mediator, with securing the long-awaited deal.

Cairo and Khartoum has resorted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which convened over the decade-old issue on 8 July. The 15-member body representatives called for resuming negotiations and avoid taking any unilateral measures.

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