Ethiopia Says Not Seeking to Harm Egypt, Sudan through GERD

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Ethiopia stressed that the mega dam it is building on the Blue Nile is not aimed at harming the two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

In statements on Friday, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele stressed that Addis Ababa is pinning its hopes of economic development and power generation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Meanwhile, Egypt is intensifying efforts to develop the country’s water system.

The Egyptian Irrigation Ministry said its current vision aims to establish a comprehensively develop the country’s water system by repairing its irrigation canals. It has already inaugurated modern irrigation systems to rationalize water consumption.

Egypt suffers from an acute shortage of water resources and relies on the Nile River for more than 90 percent of its water.

The Egyptian government is implementing a national strategy to manage and meet water demand until 2037, with investments of nearly $50 million, including projects to desalinate seawater, implement modern irrigation methods in agricultural lands and treat wastewater.

Addis Ababa finished in July 2020 the first phase of filling the GERD reservoir, in preparation for its operation, achieving its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters. This year, it targets filling an additional 13.5 billion cubic meters.

Cairo and Khartoum are demanding a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation to safeguard their water rights, while Ethiopia refuses to commit to any agreement that limits its capability to develop its resources.

Cairo and Khartoum fear the potential negative impact of the GERD on the flow of their annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water.

For nearly a decade, the African Union-sponsored talks between Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum over the operation and filling of the dam have faltered.

The latest round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Kinshasa ended in early April with no progress made.

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