Ethiopia has stressed that the construction of its controversial Nile Dam is continuing as planned, regardless of whether any agreement has been reached or not with downstream countries.
The latest remarks were made by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, during a briefing for resident African ambassadors and diplomats based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. During the briefing, Bekele provided updates on negotiations related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
He added, “The construction of the dam is going on as planned, and there is no way that the filling of the dam’s reservoir in the coming July could be escaped.”
Bekele’s remarks ignored any mention of agreements made before the filling process between Ethiopia and the parties also present in the issue, namely Sudan and Egypt.
The minister praised South Africa’s role in negotiations during its year-long presidency of the African Union (AU), and applauded the country “for tirelessly trying to bridge the gaps between the negotiating parties”.
He also stressed that his country is “committed to giving the issue a viable solution, by sticking to the principles of equitable and reasonable utilisation of the river basin, without causing significant harm to downstream countries”.
The first filling of the 145-metre-tall dam’s reservoir began in July 2020. At that time, Addis Ababa claimed the Nile dam filling was accidental due to the heavy rains that tend to occur around this time every year.
Both Egypt and Sudan fear the consequences related to the filling and operation of the $4.6bn mega-dam, as it may restrict their vital water supplies.
For almost a decade, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been engaged in negotiations on the GERD.
The principal purpose of the decade-long negotiations was to conclude a treaty, governing both the filling of the GERD reservoir and the operation of the dam.