CAIRO – 8 July 2021: Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas reiterated in a message to his Ethiopian counterpart Wednesday that the information provided by Ethiopia on the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is worthless.
Abbas added that the second filling of the dam is a threat to Sudan for its possible harmful effect on Roseires Dam, a major source of electricity to the country. That is because the amount of water intended to be filled in the reservoir exceeds the capacity of the two functioning gates, which means that the rest will pass above the dam itself when the reservoir is full.
It is noted that the reservoir's capacity is 74 billion cubic meters; however, just 4.9 billion cubic meters were reserved last year while only four out of the planned 13.5 billion cubic meters are expected to be held this year.
That is because the dam's wall is not high enough. To carry out the second filling, Ethiopia had to elevate the middle wall releasing a quantity of the water held last year so that the reservoir is estimated to have just eight billion cubic meters after the second filling. The wall should have been raised to a height of 595 meters but it was heightened to 573 solely making the quantity of water that can be filled in the meantime less.
Further, until present, Ethiopia has not succeeded in operating the turbines to generate electricity. It is salient to mention that the original plan included installing 16 turbines to generate 6,000 megawatts but the figures had to be reduced to 13 turbines generating 3,000 megawatts.
The Sudanese minister stressed that building such a massive dam without conducting basic studies to determine the social and environmental impact is a blatant violation of the international norms and practices.
Abbas asserted that the exchange of information must be within a legal binding agreement that tackles the fears of Sudan, safety conditions pertinent to the dam, and assessment of its social and environmental impact.
The minister pointed out to a message by Ethiopia to Sudan in 2020 saying that a legal binding agreement is a pre-requisite to exchange information on the dam. Hence, he expressed hope that Ethiopia accepts Sudan's proposal to resume talks as soon as possible.
The talks have been suspended since March as negotiations since 2011 have been to no avail given Ethiopia's insistence to make the deal not legally binding. That is why Egypt and Sudan are currently resorting to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which is holding a session on July 8 on the issue.