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Monday, February 26, 2024

Egypt angry as Ethiopia fills Nile dam reservoir amid water row

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Tensions have heightened between Egypt and Ethiopia after the latter announced the completion of its reservoir filling at the contentious hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile river. An integral source for Egypt’s water needs. So, Egypt angry as Ethiopia fills Nile dam reservoir amid water row.

Since its beginning in 2011, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) hydropower megaproject has been the center of conflicts, mainly involving Egypt and Sudan. The Egyptian foreign ministry expressed profound dissatisfaction, stating that Ethiopia’s actions overlooked the interests of the downstream countries.

Despite concerns, Ethiopia remains optimistic, asserting that the $4.2bn (£3.4bn) Gerd will not diminish the downstream countries’ Nile water share. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia jubilantly reported the successful final filling of the Renaissance Dam. A declaration made on X, a platform previously identified as Twitter. Ahmed acknowledged the myriad challenges the project encountered but emphasized their resilience, having already commenced electricity generation in February 2022.

For Ethiopia, Gerd’s importance extends beyond its immediate benefits. It is anticipated to bolster the country’s electricity production twofold. A significant step considering that nearly half of Ethiopia’s 127 million population is currently without electricity. The dam, situated approximately 30 km (19 miles) from the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, is projected to generate an impressive 6,000 MW.

Nevertheless, Egypt and Sudan persist in their stance that all involved nations must concur on Gerd’s operational guidelines. Their apprehensions center on the potential that Ethiopia, in its pursuit of energy, might inadvertently accentuate their prevailing water shortages. Despite these disagreements, negotiations regarding the dam’s future had resumed recently after a brief hiatus in 2021.

In a consequential development, Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned Ethiopia’s “unilateral” reservoir filling, deeming it a contravention of a 2015 trilateral declaration of principles. This document had expressly emphasized that a consensus regarding Gerd’s filling. Operational procedures must be established before initiating the filling process. 

Egypt highlighted its perspective on Ethiopia’s recent actions, interpreting them as an overt neglect of the downstream countries’ interests and water security rights, which, according to them, are upheld by international law standards.

The world awaits to see how these countries will resolve their disagreements and guarantee fair and sustainable water use for all parties.

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