ADDIS ABABA – The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached 78.3 percent, announced Sileshi Bekele (PHD), Minister of Water, Energy and Irrigation, on Friday.
Sileshi said this during a briefing regarding his Ministry’s performance during the first half of the current 2020/21 Fiscal Year.
The construction performance in past six months is the fastest since the commencement of the construction of GERD on Nile River, the minister said.
The project, which was 74 percent complete in June 2020, has now registered an additional 4.3 percent, said the Minister, adding that 91 percent of the civil works of the project have been completed.
The progress would make the dam on truck to produce electricity on time.
Of the total 13 power generating turbines, two will start production this coming rainy season, according to the minister.
The Dam talks
Ethiopia has been in talks with Egypt and Sudan for a decade to find a solution regarding the mega dam.
The key sticking point surrounds the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter-tall hydropower project and future water development of projects on the Abbay Basin.
Ethiopia reiterated hydroelectric power produced at the dam is essential for it to meet the energy needs of its population, and insists it will not adversely affect the water supplies to downstream countries.
However, the lower riparian nations insist the dam would affect their water supplies.
Unlike the downstream countries, Seleshi said Ethiopia firmly believes in talks which could resolve the outstanding issues over the GERD.
Ethiopia has also extended the filling of the dam 4 to 7 years, although it can be filled within three years as per the design, the minister added.
Scientists of the three countries have developed a stage-based filling mechanism which takes about 4 stages where the first stages have 2 stages, and in the second year the dam will be filled up to 595 meters that constitutes dead storage volume.
Last year, the filling happened for 4.9 billion cubic meters and another 13.4 billion cubic meters will be added in the subsequent year, Sileshi added.
“The Declaration of Principles [agreed by the three nations] articulates that the filling will happen while the dam construction continues,” he said. “Filling of the dam is part of the construction.”
Ethiopia would continue to support the ongoing mediation process led by the African Union.
“Ethiopia has been insisting on continuing the negotiation to solve the issues since we came to the AU platform,” he said. “Unfortunately, Sudan disrupted the process 7 times in 7 months.”
Ethiopia firmly believes in continuing the negotiations in good faith, Sileshi underscored. elaborates:
“In good faith means not bringing unnecessary complicated issues beyond GERD. The GERD is a single project for Ethiopia. Ethiopia has future development needs for power generation, agricultural productivity, drinking water supply and industrialization. But Ethiopia will not agree to article that prevents explicitly or implicitly its future development.”