July 19, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, on Monday, announced that the successful end of the second filling of its giant dam, which contributed to further strain relations between Ethiopia and Sudan.
In a statement released on social media in Amhara, Abiy congratulated Ethiopians for the completion of the second phase of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)’s filling.
He further said that the achievement will enable his country to start producing power as two water turbines will start generating electricity.
His announcement was followed by a statement from the other officials celebrating the “historic achievement”.
The Ethiopian second filling which had begun on 5 July was supposed to fill the GERD reservoir with 13.5 billion cubic meters of water.
Egypt and Sudan had denounced the unilateral move which took place without an agreement with the downstream countries particularly Sudan to prevent water shortage or negative impact on its small dam located near the GERD.
Three days ago, Mutasim Alawad, Director of Reservoirs Department at the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation stated that his government by the end of June stocked additional 600 million cubic meters of water in Jebel Awlia on the White Nile in Khartoum State and one billion in the reservoir of the Rosaires dam near the border with Ethiopia.
Also on 18 July, the Sudanese water ministry warned the residents living on the basin of the Blue Nile against flooding saying they expect an increase in the waters of the Blue Nile following heavy rains in Ethiopia.
In response to the announcement of the completion of the second phase, the Sudanese government issued a statement calling on Addis Ababa to sign a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD.
The unilateral “Ethiopian approach will only damage the distinguished historical relations between the two brotherly countries and peoples,” stated the Sudanese irrigation ministry.
It is not too late for striking the “desired agreement” which require only a serious political will, further stressed the statement.
However, a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team Yilma Sileshi sees that the completion of the second phase without “significant harm” to the downstream countries should bring the two countries to accept cooperation with Ethiopia on the GERD.
“By resisting the pressures imposed by Egypt, Sudan and their allies for the last months, we have reached to the current level by fully committed to all responsibilities,” Sileshi told the official news agency on Monday.
Ethiopia rejects the demand by Sudan and Egypt for a binding agreement as provided in the Declaration of Principles of 23 March 2015.
Instead, Addis Ababa proposes a flexible guideline on the filling and operating of the GERD, pointing that the requested agreement would hamper its plans to construct new dams in the future.