Ethiopia Begins Second Phase of Filling Renaissance Dam

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has begun the second round of filling up the reservoir behind Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with water, Ethiopian envoy to the US confirmed on Tuesday.

The filling begun as the rainy season near the dam site reaches at its peak this month.

“Due to the favorable rainy season in the region the amount of water entering to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is more than the outflow,” said Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian Envoy to the US.

“Some call it 2nd filling, we call it water pooling,” he added in a message posted on his twitter page.

The start of the filling was announced a day after Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, and the contractors evaluated the construction project and, they said it is progressing well as per the plan.

The $4.6 billion Dam is expected to collect 13.5 billion cubic meters of the Blue Nile River water in the rainy season, swelling its reservoir to 18.4 billion cubic meters, according to the country’s officials.

With 80% complete to date, authorities plan to begin generating power from the dam during the current rainy season.

Arab League’s Meddling

Since the onset of the project, the hydroelectric dam has long been a source of tension in the region. Addis Ababa says it is vital for its development. Cairo and Egypt see the project as a threat.

Various African Union-led negotiations over the dam have failed to reach a final agreement due to continuous undermining effort by the downstream countries.

Recent African Union efforts have stalled and now Egypt and Sudan, which also sits downstream of the GERD, have asked the UN Security Council to discuss the issue.

This includes politicizing the development project and organizing the Arab league nations to meddle in the Nile issue.

The UN is expected to meet on Thursday after it was requested by Tunisia on Egypt and Sudan’s behalf, according to AFP news agency, although the matter is “outside the scope” of the Security Council .

Ethiopia already notified Egypt and Sudan that it has already begun the second round of filling of the dam. The “filling goes in tandem with the construction,” a senior Ethiopian water ministry official told AFP news agency.

‘African solutions to Africa’s challenges’

Addis Ababa also rejected the unwelcome meddling by the League of Arab States on the matter of the dam.

In a letter sent to the president of the UN SC on Monday, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign minister, Demeke Mekonnnen, stated that his country is disappointed by the Arab League for addressing the UN on a matter that does not fall within its purview.

The approach followed by the League risks undermining the friendly and cooperative relations between AU and the Arab League since the trilateral negotiation on the GERD is underway under the auspices of the African Union (AU), the letter added.

The letter notes that the AU, as a common organization for Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, offers the tripartite a platform to negotiate and reach a win-win outcome guided by the conviction of finding “African solutions to Africa’s challenges”.



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