Ethiopia completes first phase mega dam water filling

The Government of Ethiopia on Tuesday announced completion of the first phase of water filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The statement of the Prime Minister Office of Ethiopia indicated that over the past few weeks 4.9 billion cubic meters of water is stored in the reservoir. Ethiopia aims to complete water filling of GERD, which has 74 billion cubic water within 4 to 7 years. “It has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that the GERD first year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping,” the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said, in its press statement.

The news came on Tuesday evening after leaders of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have engaged in negotiations mediated by South African President.
“Current rainfall and runoff situation in the region have made it conducive to fill the dam. In the negotiations on the first filling and annual operation of the GERD, Ethiopia is committed to a balanced and win-win negotiation that ascertains the Abbay River will benefit all the three countries,” the statement said.

The follow-up Extraordinary Meeting of the Bureau of the African Union Assembly, convened by South African President and African Union Chair, Cyril Ramaphosa, was held virtually on July 21, 2020 on the ongoing negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt with regards to the first filling and annual operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed commended the African Union led process for supporting the three countries address differences and arrive at agreements. He appreciated the resolve to African Solutions to African Problems undertaken through existing regional mechanisms and reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to continued equitable and reasonable utilization of Abbay River waters, without significant harm to Egypt and Sudan.”

“The Extraordinary Meeting undertaken at the Heads of State and Government level concluded with all parties reaching a major common understanding which paves the way for a breakthrough agreement. Accordingly, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed for further technical discussions on the filling to continue in the AU led process and proceed to a comprehensive agreement,” the statement said.

When completed Ethiopia expects to generate over 5,000 megawatts of electricity from GERD and bring electricity to some of its over 50 million people who currently have no access to electricity. The country also hopes to expand its clean energy export to the neighboring countries. By next year the country plans to add some 13 billion cubic meters of water into the resource from Abbay River, which flows to the neighboring Sudan and Egypt becoming the Blue Nile River that ends its some 6,000 kilometres journey reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Abbay River, which contributes 86 percent of the water to the Nile, is formed after tens of small river streams from Ethiopian highlands come together.