Water ministers from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on Tuesday started trilateral ministerial discussion in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on the filling of Ethiopia’s grand dam.
The Ethiopian Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a 74,000 million cubic meters hydroelectric dam under construction on the Blue Nile River that originates from Ethiopia and shared among the three countries has been at the centre of recent talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
The three countries’ water ministers, during their meetings, are expected to discuss the findings of the National Independent Research Group on filling operation of GERD, according to Ethiopia’s state news agency ENA. Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Selishi Bekele said during the opening of the ministerial meeting on Tuesday that the meeting is expected to deliberate on pending issues that aimed at narrowing misunderstandings and gaps. “This meeting gives us the opportunity to look at the study results and resolve issues and move forward with other cooperative areas that the countries should develop further,” Bekele added.
Bekele further vowed that “the GERD will be filled without causing any significant harm to the downstream countries based on the Declaration of Principles and recommendations we have been underlying in the past.” Egyptian Water Resource and Irrigation Minister, Mohamed Abdel Atty said the meeting is part of the commitment of the three countries to send their queries and comments to the National Independent Research Group. “I look for the possible best scenario for filling that could have no significant harm on the downstream countries and fulfill all the requirements for operating the GERD,” he added.
Sudan’s new Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Kedir Kesem Al Seid also stressed the potentials of the summit to uplift the three countries ties, with due emphasis given to Ethiopia’s grand dam.
“We came with open mind to see if there are any differences in the National Independent Research Group that we can close,” he said. The construction of GERD, which will be regarded as Africa’s largest dam upon completion with a total volume of 74,000 million cubic meters on the river has been a major issue among the countries since its commencement in April, 2011 with a construction cost of 80 billion Ethiopian birr (close to 4.7 billion U.S. dollars). While Ethiopia and Sudan reached mutual consensus on the construction of the 6,450 MW hydro dam, Egypt frequently expressed its concern that the dam would affect its share of the river. The three countries had formed a tripartite committee back in 2012 to create understanding and look into the benefits and impacts the project would have on the three countries.