Egypt has renewed its “adherence” to its water rights, a few days after Ethiopia announced completing the third filling of its mega dam reservoir and the electricity production from the second turbine without agreement from downstream countries.
Egypt and Sudan demand that Ethiopia halt the construction work at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) until reaching a legally-binding agreement on its filling and operation.
The $4.2-billion dam is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia's current output.
The reservoir's total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, and the target for 2021 was to add 13.5 billion, a target Ethiopia said it had met. Both countries argue that GERD will undermine their water resources.
The newly-appointed Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Hani Swailem, said Cairo’s vision is clear and seeks to maintain its water rights, while helping other African countries in general to obtain their rights as well.
In televised statements on Sunday, Swailem slammed Addis Ababa’s unresponsive stance towards Cairo’s call for cooperation, noting that he is determined to change it.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced last week that his country completed the third filling of GERD’s reservoir.
“As you see behind me, the third filling is complete,” Ahmed said from the dam site.
“Compared to last year, we have reached 600 meters, which is 25 meters higher than the previous filling,” Ahmed said Friday.
Ethiopia first began generating electricity from the GERD in February.
On Thursday, it said it had launched electricity production from the second turbine at GERD.
Currently, the two operational turbines, out of a total of 13, have a capacity to generate 750 megawatts of electricity.
Ahmed nevertheless sought to reassure Egypt and Sudan over the impact of the dam.
“When we set out to build a dam on the Nile, we said from the beginning that we did not want to make the river our own,” he said on Twitter.
“We hope that just like Ethiopia, the other gifted nations of the Nile, Sudan and Egypt, will get to utilize their share.”
He also called for negotiations to reach an understanding on the dam but insisted the third filling was not causing any water shortages downstream.
In July, Cairo protested to the United Nations Security Council against Addis Ababa’s plans to fill the GERD reservoir for a third year without agreement from downstream countries.