Egypt has requested urgent official clarification from Ethiopia regarding the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ahmed Hafiz.
In a short statement on Wednesday, Hafiz said that Egypt continues to follow updates in this regard.
Egypt’s request came in response to conflicting statements by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy, Sileshi Bekele, regarding the commencement of the dam’s filling.
In an initial statement to the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Bekele said that Ethiopia’s government had started filling the 4.9bn cbm Ethiopian dam, according to the Associated Press (AP). Only a few hours later, Bekele denied that filling had started.
In a statement to the EBC, Bekele said that the dam’s construction and filling “go hand-in-hand”, whilst affirming recent satellite images that show the dam’s filling has begun.
Sudan, however, says that water flow along the River Nile has declined, which confirms that the dam’s filling has already started.
The move comes following the African Union (AU) brokered negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan which ended on Monday without any agreement on disputed points regarding the dam.
Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation added that there are continued differences on fundamental issues regarding the rules of filling and operation of the dam Ethiopia has been building on the Blue Nile since 2011.
After eleven days of negotiations, the three countries presented their final reports on the progress of the talks to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is the current chairman of the AU.
Ramaphosa is expected to hold a mini-summit of AU officials and heads of member states to discuss the next steps.
Egypt has repeatedly warned Addis Ababa against taking any unilateral measures without reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
Egypt has expressed concerns regarding its possible impact on its 55bn cbm share of the River Nile’s water. However, Ethiopia insists that the dam will not negatively affect Egypt’s interests.
Both Egypt and Sudan have other fears over the dam’s security and safety, due to its location in an active geologic region, which puts it at a risk of earthquakes or mass floods.