ADDIS ABABA – The filling of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has started, according to Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
Minister of Water Seleshi Bekele, in an interview he had with a state-run Ethiopian Television, said the filling is underway in conformity with the normal process of the construction of the multi-billion Dam.
He also confirmed the accuracy of satellite images released earlier this week showing the reservoir behind the hydroelectric dam beginning to swell.
The image of the swelling reservoir was captured on July 9 by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite.
“The construction of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand,” Seleshi said. “The filling of the dam doesn’t need to wait until the completion of the dam.”
The water level had increased from 525 meters to 560 meters.
The Minister had tweeted earlier in the day: “The inflow into the reservoir due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling. This continues until overflow is triggered soon.”
On Tuesday, talks between Ethiopia Egypt and Sudan to regulate the flow of water from the dam failed to reach an agreement.
The dam, when finished, will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts – more than doubling Ethiopia’s existing capacity – and is the centerpiece of the country’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.