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Renaissance Dam: Sudan responds to Ethiopia’s threat, prepares for the worst

February 11, 2021 at 1:00 am

A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, on 26 December 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP/Getty Images]

Sudan has started preparing for worst-case scenarios regarding the Renaissance Dam file, especially after Ethiopian officials revealed their country’s intention to complete the second filling of the dam. Ethiopia has not yet reached an agreement with Sudan and Egypt, which Khartoum considers a dangerous move concerning the Sudanese Roseires Dam and the 20 million citizens living on the banks of the Nile.

On Wednesday, Emirati newspaper Al-Ruya quoted head of the technical department of the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, Engineer Mustafa Hassan, stating: “The Sudanese government is completely against filling the dam unilaterally, and Sudan has stipulated the signing of a binding legal agreement with Ethiopia.”

Hassan added that Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to initiate the second filling of the dam next July will directly affect the Roseires Dam and all activities in the Blue Nile. It will also hinder the hydroelectric generators of the Roseires reservoir and the Merowe Dam, the drinking water stations of the Blue Nile and the Main Nile, as well as having a negative impact on irrigation projects. Above all, it will pose a threat to the lives and safety of around half of the Sudanese population living on the banks of the Blue Nile.

The newspaper also quoted media official of the Ministry of Irrigation, Osama Abu Shanab, confirming that: “Filling the Ethiopian dam threatens the lives of 20 million Sudanese who live on the banks of the Nile, and jeopardises the facilities located on the main Nile up to Atbara.”

READ: Foreign meddling as a source of state fragility in Ethiopia 

According to hydrologist Ahmed Al-Mufti, despite the mediation of the most influential parties – the US and the World Bank – Ethiopia has rejected the proposed draft. Al-Mufti cites that the only alternative is to stop negotiations and withdraw from the Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, to prove the illegality of the activities undertaken in the Renaissance Dam, and refer the issue to the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

Al-Mufti added: “No negative repercussions can emanate from withdrawing from the Declaration of Principles because this move comes as a result of Ethiopia’s violation of the pact, especially as the first filling was done unilaterally, without conducting the studies specified by the declaration, and the failure to complete the Dam safety supplement stipulated by Principle No. 8 of the agreement.”

The expert reiterated: “Sudan’s participation in managing the dam could be a solution if the necessary conditions are met, the first of which is issuing the provisions of the joint management mechanism, with the consensus of the representatives of the three countries. Additionally, the joint management agreement should be worded very accurately and issued under a UN Security Council resolution, in accordance with Chapter Seven, with the presence of international guarantors and extremely deterrent measures if Ethiopia breaches the agreement, including freezing of the operation of the dam by an order of the UN Security Council.”