ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has shared its rules of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to Egypt and Sudan as the three Nile Nations continue their virtual conference on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Water and Irrigation ministers of the three nations held their first meeting which an aim to set agenda to resume their trilateral talks on the multi-billion dollar dam Addis Ababa is building over on the Nile River.
“Completing most of the procedural items, today we shared Ethiopia’s plan on rules of filling and annual operation that has 13 articles,” said Ethiopia’s water minister Seleshi Bekele on Wednesday.
Seleshi said the meeting will continue tomorrow.
Apart from Sudan Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas and Egypt’s Mohamed Abdel-Ati, delegates from the African Union and the European Union are attending the virtual conference.
Sudan’s irrigation ministry said the meeting “was held in a positive spirit” so far.
“The three ministers agree to hold daily meetings,” the ministry said in a statement.
The dam has been a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011. Talks earlier this year involving the three nations failed to produce a breakthrough.
The government of Ethiopia has placed big hope on the GERD project – currently 74 percent complete – to supply to over 50 million of its citizen currently living without electricity.
Managers of the GERD project plans to start the first phase filling to hold 4.9 billion cubic meters of water behind the dam “within few weeks” as preparation to test two turbines mid next year.
Egypt, however, insists on having a comprehensive deal with Ethiopia ahead of the scheduled filling – a notion Addis Ababa strongly disagrees with.
“Ethiopia does not have a legal obligation to seek approval of Egypt to fill the dam,” its foreign minister Gedu Andargachew said earlier this month.
The mega-dam has a capacity of holding 74 billion cubic meters and generating 6, 450-megawatt electricity. Ethiopia contributes 86% of the waters of the Blue Nile but has never made use of the resource.