The Ethiopian government has disputed what it termed “propaganda” meant to derail the continuous progress on the operationalisation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Ambassador of Ethiopia to South Sudan, Nebil Mahdi Abdullahi, said the GERD project will not cause any harm to the downstream neighbours, Sudan and Egypt, as some reports have alleged.
The commencement of the dam would neither cause harm nor contravene the 2015 Declaration of Principle signed by the tripartite countries.
The diplomat said the opening of the dam should be considered as a regional development project, instead of viewed as a source of confrontation.
“Ethiopia proves that it has no hidden ill intention to harm Sudan and Egypt. No intention of blocking the Nile and creating a hunger for our brothers in Sudan and Egypt,” he stated.
“The GERD generation does not cause any significant harm to both downstream countries, this demonstrates to the world that propaganda by some countries is completely baseless, it does not compromise the 2015 declaration of principle,” said Amb. Mahdi.
In March 2015, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt signed an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa’s biggest $ 4.2 billion hydroelectric projects in Ethiopia.
The two downstream countries had opposed the dam’s construction, saying it would block waters for irrigation and Sennar Dam in Egypt and Sudan, respectively, as the former reiterates its regional benefit, which outweighs the water scarcity that it may cause.
“The declaration of principle in the three countries signed says clearly that negotiations continue in parallel with the construction of the dam.” What Ethiopia did on Sunday does not contradict the declaration of principle that the three countries have agreed on,” said Amb. Mahdi.
The dam, inaugurated on Sunday with a projection to generate more than 5,000 megawatts, more than Ethiopia’s power needs, will equally benefit neighbouring and regional countries, the diplomat said.
To avoid causing harm to its downstream neighbours, Ethiopia said it is rolling out a gradual filling process, even though it could be done once.
According to the Ethiopian government, over 90 per cent of the water comes during the rainy season, which means the quick filling of the dam would not necessarily cause any harm.
Amb. Mahdi said even though some countries “exerted their maximum efforts to either stop or derail the project by sponsoring conflict in Ethiopia, the commencement shows that the only solution for effective utilisation of Nile waters is cooperation rather than politicisation and securitisation of the dam”.
He called on African countries to cooperate and back the 145-metre-high dam – which lies on the Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, not far from the border with Sudan – which had started generating 375 megawatts of electricity from one of its turbines on Sunday.
The dam is being constructed with funding from the 10 per cent contributions of every Ethiopian, including students and civil servants, since the project’s launch. Meanwhile, the government contributed 90 per cent of the total funding.
The City Review]