Ethiopia says it will start filling the reservoir of Africa’s largest dam on the Nile, even without agreement from downstream Egypt and Sudan.
The 4.6-billion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia has been building since 2010 on the Blue Nile, has long caused animosity with Egypt.
“We will go ahead with the filling of the dam next month even if there’s no agreement reached,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew told dpa.
He said that while they were still hoping to reach an agreement, “Egypt’s insistence on controlling the river flow” was hampering proceedings.
A decade of arduous talks involving the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, and upstream Ethiopia have reached deadlock with Egypt turning to the UN Security Council last week.
Egypt seeks a legally binding deal that would guarantee the appropriate flows of water and a legal mechanism for resolving disputes before the dam starts operating.
Ethiopia, however, has threatened to start filling the 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal.
Ethiopia wants the hydroelectric dam in order to expand its power exports whereas Egypt relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming, industry and domestic water use.
It is concerned that GERD’s sluices will control water flow in ways that will make life difficult for Egyptians.
Ethiopia says Egyptian concerns are baseless.
“The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything.
”They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water sharing agreement,” Andargachew said.