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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been a source of conflict between Addis Ababa and Egypt and Sudan since construction began

World

Ethiopia hits second-year target for filling Nile mega-dam

Addis Ababa (AFP), Jul 19 – Ethiopia has attained its second-year target for filling a mega-dam on the Blue Nile River that has stoked tensions with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, an official told AFP on Monday.

“The first filling already was done last year. The second one is already done today. So today or tomorrow, second filling will be announced,” said the official, adding there is now enough water stored to begin producing energy.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam — GERD — has been a source of dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Ethiopia deems it essential for its electrification and development.

Talks held under the auspices of the African Union have failed to yield a three-way agreement on the dam’s filling and operations, and Cairo and Khartoum have demanded Addis Ababa cease filling the massive reservoir until such a deal is reached.

But Ethiopian officials have argued that filling is a natural part of the dam’s construction process and cannot be stopped.

The UN Security Council met earlier this month to discuss the project, although Ethiopia later slammed the session as an “unhelpful” distraction from the AU-led process.

Map of East Africa showing the Nile and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. © AFP

Reservoir-filling began last year, with Ethiopia announcing in July 2020 it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres.

The goal for this year’s rainy season was to add 13.5 billion cubic metres.

There is now enough water to install and operate the dam’s first two turbines, which would allow the project to start producing energy for the first time, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

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“I cannot say this time or that time but we will generate shortly the power with this necessary storage,” the official said.

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