With the project reaching 73 percent completion, Ethiopia announces that it adheres to plan to fill the dam starting July this year.
By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 11, 2020
Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation, and Energy Minister Sleshi Bekele (PhD) has announced today that Ethiopia will proceed according to its original plan and begin filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in July. The construction of the dam has reached 73 percent (with the civil works at 87 percent) and this is enough to commence the filling.
The Minister gave a presentation today at a meeting of the GERD technical committee, led by the Prime Minister, which also includes, among others, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, General Adem Mohammed, the army chief of staff, Gedu Andargachew, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, who is also a Water Engineer.
It was also revealed at the meeting that Ethiopia has prepared a document as a response to the complaint Egypt filed to the United Nations Security Council last week. It was also reported that both Egypt and Sudan refused to review the document that details the execution of the filling work, although they had previously expressed agreement to the timing of the filling.
A report by Wazema Radio, the new document that Egypt and Sudan have refused to review, is actually more suited (compared to Ethiopia’s previous plans) to their interests. According to Wazema, it would take more than 10 years for the dam to reach its maximum capacity as per this new document. The document also gives assurance that the filling will not take place in the second year if, due to drought in Ethiopia, the total yearly flow of the river falls short of 31 Billion Cubic Meters.
Sudan, reportedly, fears pressure from the US and Egypt is demanding to have more detailed information supported with numbers and to be allowed to have a part in the administration of the Dam to make sure everything is being done as per the agreement.
Regarding the Washington platform, in which the US, Egypt and Sudan had reached an agreement without Ethiopia, it has been decided that Ethiopia will not return to it until the platform is open for discussion.
According to Wazema radio, however, although some members of the diplomatic team that did the negotiation on Ethiopia’s behalf have expressed their fear that returning to the Washington table will only lead to more pressure (on Ethiopia) and controversy, the general opinion among team members is that not returning to the table could be very harmful and that the best thing to do is to return to the table and doing the utmost to reach an agreement that protects Ethiopia’s national interests.
Wazema also reported that there is a consensus among delegation members that the negotiation should be led by the Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Sleshi Bekele and not the Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew who is newer to the process, has limited experience in diplomacy, and was rather reserved in the last round of the negotiation. Moreover, the Water Minister ought to take the lead because the negotiation involves much that is technical. Adding new members that are able diplomats has been suggested as a solution to the diplomatic-deficiency that the team might face as a result of having the Ministry of Water at the forefront of the negotiations.
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