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Ethiopia’s Abiy praises ‘historic’ start to dam filling

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Fresh talks are beginning as construction on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam reaches its final stages. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

AFP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday lauded the “historic” early filling of a massive dam on the Blue Nile River that has stoked tensions with downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.

“The completion of the first round of filling is a historic moment that showcases Ethiopians’ commitment to the renaissance of our country,” Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate, said in a statement read on state television.

“The fact that we reached this milestone by our own efforts when no one else believed in our capabilities to accomplish such initiatives makes the moment even more historic,” he added.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat to vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it crucial for its electrification and development.

“We conducted the filling of the dam without causing harm to anyone,” said Abiy.

Addis Ababa had long said it planned to begin filling the dam’s reservoir this month, in the middle of its rainy season, drawing objections from Cairo and Khartoum who wanted to first reach a trilateral agreement on how the dam would be operated.

Ethiopia’s announcement that it had hit its first-year target for filling the dam came Tuesday as the three countries were participating in talks overseen by the African Union to try to resolve the dispute.

After the call, leaders from the three countries said they had agreed to continue with the negotiations, though it was unclear what concrete progress had been made.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Egypt’s foreign ministry stressed “the necessity of reaching a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam” that would “include a legally binding instrument to resolve conflicts”.

But Ethiopia has resisted a legally binding dispute resolution process.

Ethiopian officials said the dam will not harm downstream countries.

They have also said this year’s filling was a natural and inevitable part of construction.

By filling the reservoir with 4.9 billion cubic metres (173 billion cubic feet) of water, Ethiopia is now in a position to test its first two turbines — an important step on the way toward actually producing energy.

Abiy noted Wednesday that Ethiopia wanted the dam to be fully operational by early 2023.

2 Comments

  1. There are a few things or claims that I DON’T WANNA HEAR when people talk about this dam!

    1) Calling the dam ‘controversial’. That is because there is nothing controversial about it. Nothing!!!
    2) Such vile allegation as ‘Ethiopia began filling the dam’. That is totally a lie cooked up in Al-Qahirah. What do you expect when Mother Nature let it pour down in buckets? Hello!! Flooding, right? Then zip it!!! For someone, I said somebody, whose Allah given faculties are in good order can tell from the color of the river around the dam is dark brown. What does that tell you? Flood!!! A raging flood!!!! It is said that Sudan is already benefiting from that latest situation around the dam. The dam is already having impact on the annual flooding Sudan used to be devastated by this time of the year.
    3) Stop telling the world about ‘tension’ that should never exist between Ethiopia and Egypt. And stop adding catchy phrases like ‘tension building up between the two superpowers of the region’. That is because they are NOT!!! None of these two are superpowers! There are some sugar drunk megalomaniacs in Cairo who dream to be taken as such with panhandled F16’s, Rafale’s and SU-35’s. Not those blacks who never look down on others.

    Mother Nature does its chores like clockwork. It flooded the dam and that is it!!!

    All Glory to those patriots, Obbo Seleshi and Gedu!!! I Love You Mother Nature!!!!!

  2. This should be considered one of the greatest moments in the long history of Ethiopia. At last GERD is fait accompli. All Ethiopians should rejoice . My thanks and gratitude goes to those men and women working in the project, the labourers, engineers and the negotiating teams for steadfastly defending the interests of this generation of Ethiopian and the generation to come. This is a great moment for Ethiopia.
    Aiga forum, the mouth piece of the curse of Ethiopia TPLF is absolutely livid and furiously raging that GERD’s stage 1 filling is successfully completed. This is really disappointing even that anti Ethiopia little turd melesi zenawi would not have gone as low as the aiga forum. Towards the end of his life he was even warming up to what it means to be an Ethiopian. Well aiga forum and Tplf may rejoice at the prospects of the Trump administration cutting some development funds, but there is also a strong possibility that at last the US admin will now seriously consider Tplf as a terrorist organization. The secretary of state has already stated that tedros adhanom is working for the Chinese and essentially labelling him a Chinese agent.
    I think the Ethiopian people should let the people of tigre have a referendum to either stay with Ethiopia or go their own way. In my view, it would be better for Ethiopia if they go.

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