EXCLUSIVE: Ethiopia asks for 5-6 yrs to fill GERD’s reservoir

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Mon, 06 Aug 2018 - 03:59 GMT

FILE- A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in this March 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/Files

FILE- A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in this March 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/Files

CAIRO – 6 August 2018: In its ongoing negotiations with Nile downstream countries Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopia has asked for 5-6 years to fill the dam’s reservoir, Mamdouh Mohamed Hassan, the head of the Central Department for Technical Cooperation at the Nile Sector of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation told Egypt Today.

Hassan added that Egypt expressed its desire that Ethiopia abide by the Nile water quantity flow in filling the reservoir to “avoid any significant damage on the downstream countries.” “The average of the Nile water flow is 84 billion cubic meters, as it is variable between 50 billion cubic meters to 140 cubic meters,” he said.

Hassan also revealed that the current debate between Egypt and Ethiopia on GERD is a technical one.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in May 2011, immediately following the Egyptian 25 January Revolution. Cairo expressed its concerns over affecting its 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile water share. Since then, negotiations among the three countries were suspended for three years. However, talks resumed in 2014 and a Declaration of the Renaissance Dam Principles Charter tackling the management of the dam with written guarantees has since been signed. According to the charter, the dam’s reservoir cannot be filled without the approval of both Egypt and Sudan.

“Ethiopia has not yet begun to fill the reservoir of the Renaissance dam […] Egypt will not allow its (water) share of the Nile water to be affected,” said Egyptian Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Moahmed Adel Atti during his inauguration of a number of water-related projects on Thursday in Daqahlia governorate (Delta) last week.

Cairo said that Ethiopia has started building the dam “without consultation” in accordance with international accords, while Addis Ababa replied that it is not binding to any international accords.

The deals in question date back to 1929 and 1959 and were during the time of British colonization, where a total of 80 billion cubic meters of Nile water was allocated to Egypt (55.5 billion), and for Sudan (18.5 billion). The agreements also granted Egypt the right of veto against any projects that could be established on Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan that may cause harm to its share, leaving out Ethiopia.

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