Major milestone reached in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project as Ethiopia completed second filling
Ethiopia has completed the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite unprecedented pressure, including from the European Union and the United States, to sign a binding agreement before the filling.
The filling was completed faster than it was anticipated due to the high volume of rain that Ethiopia received during the Ethiopian summer seasons.
It was earlier today that water from Abay river (Nile river) completely filled the reservoir and reached overtopping water level, as disclosed by Mr. Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
He tweeted :
“Today, 19th July, 2021, the GERD reservoir reached overtopping water level. Currently, the incoming flow passes through both bottom outlets and overtopping. This year we are also experiencing extreme rainfall in the Abbay Basin(Blue Nile Basin). As a result, the GERD reservoir has filled rapidly. GERD is an Ethiopian hydropower dam and guardian infrastructure asset for the downstream countries against climate change. It is also a means to develop further and prosper together, it can never be a treat.”
During the second phase of the filling, Ethiopia retained over 13.9 cubic meters of water. In the first phase of the filling, which happened in July 2020, 4.5 billion cubic meters of water was retained in the reservoir. It means that Ethiopia has so far about 18 billion cubic meters of water, which is not even half of the amount of water the downstream countries get per year. Over 85 percent of the Nile water originates from the Ethiopian Highlands.
Sudan’s Roseires Dam Director, Hamid Mohammed Ali, said the second filling of the Ethiopian Dam has not impacted the amount of water flowing to the downstream countries, as reported by EBC.
However, Sudan issued a statement hours after the Ethiopian government announced completion of the second filling rejecting a unilateral filing, as reported by Aljazeera.
Egypt and Sudan have been mobilizing regional and international support to pressure Ethiopia into signing what they call “binding agreement” before the second filling. The last effort was last week, when they, with political support from Arab League states, tabled Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam for discussion at the United Nations Security Council.
It was also an effort to take the negotiation over GERD out of the African Union. Ethiopia opposed it, saying that GERD does not constitute a security issue as it is purely a development project.
The United Nations Security Council decided that the African Union continue with the negotiation of the GERD project between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. But no date is yet fixed as to when the next round of talks will be between the three countries.
According to the latest information from Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, 80 percent of the project is completed. This mega project is entirely funded from domestic sources. So far, Ethiopians have contributed nearly 16 billion Ethiopian birr.
Yacob Arsano is a political science professor at Addis Ababa University and has been closely working with the GERD team. Asked as to what the completion of the second filling means to Ethiopians, he said, “the second filling signifies hope of development and prosperity for Ethiopians.”
More than 65 percent of the Ethiopian population does not have access to electricity. The GERD project is seen as one that addresses the problem.
Speaking from the project site on Monday, Mr. Seleshi said that two turbines will start generating hydroelectric power within two months.