Ethiopia Completes The First Round Filling of The Disputed Nile Dam To Start Partial Power Generation

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Ethiopia's Disputed GERD after the first round filling

Ethiopia has achieved the first round filling of the disputed Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD) on river “Abbay” as scheduled by the government to start in July, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday, July 21, 2020.

The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Sileshi Bekele also notified that the water heald at the dam is good enough for partial power generation next year.

The statement by the prime minister was quite a surprise since Ethiopian state media apologized last week for reporting that the country had started filling the dam, and reports were suggesting that the swelling of the dam was not due to government action but because of the high amount of seasonal rain.

The past two weeks of the rainy season in Ethiopia led to the current achievement of the first round filling plan and the dam under construction is overtopping, reads the statement of the prime minister.

Technical Negotiations among the water ministers of the three partakers of the longest river in the world, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt had been made in the past couple years to reach agreement on terms of filling and operating Ethiopia’s dam feared by the downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt that it could reduce their water share.

The decision of the Ethiopian government to start filling the reservoir this year escalated the existing tensions especially among Ethiopia and the upper hand consumer, Egypt which claims that the Nile is the only source of fresh water for its 100 million citizens.

Ethiopia contributes the upper hand share to the Nile but the river hasn’t been serving any purpose for its population which is the second-highest in Africa. And the government took a firm stand that the country has the right to use the water causing no significant harm to both Sudan and Egypt to fill the power gap of the country whose more than half of the population with no access to electricity.

The latest negotiations of the three countries brokered by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, and chairperson of the African Union aimed at solving the regional issue with the regional institution.

Additionally, according to the statement of Office Of The Prime Minister, the AU led virtual meeting had been concluded with “all parties reaching a major common understanding which paves the way for a breakthrough agreement.”

The three countries with the heads of states in attendance also agreed to continue further technical discussions that would be led by the AU.