Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said yesterday that "his country's goal behind building the Grand Renaissance Dam is only to meet its electricity needs, without posing a threat to the downstream countries."
This came during a speech delivered before members of the House of Representatives, during a session to discuss the draft 2021-2022 budget, according to the official Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
Over the last decade, dozens of rounds of negotiations have been held between Ethiopia and the two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, without a final agreement being reached.
Addis Ababa this week gave Egypt notice that it has started the second phase of filling the dam, taking advantage of the rainy season. A move Cairo rejects.
"Ethiopia's goal here is only to meet its electricity needs and reduce the concerns of Sudan and Egypt, as well as bring lasting peace and prosperity to our region," said Abiy Ahmed.
He pointed out that "his green initiative, which includes planting billions of seedlings in Ethiopia, can help Egypt and Sudan obtain more water than they currently receive."
He explained: "Our green initiative will help increase the amount of rain and water as well as reduce water losses, which can ensure water security for us and others in the region."
Ethiopia, he added, "has no intention to harm others, but rather aspires to achieve common development through cooperation with others."
Earlier on Thursday, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasser Abbas, announced his country's "categorical" refusal to discuss water quotas through the Renaissance Dam negotiations.
On Sunday Ethiopia announced that it had raised the level of alertness of its forces deployed around the dam area, in order to secure the second stage of the filling process.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a session on the Renaissance Dam on Thursday.
Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.
Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.
Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn't and issued a statement to this effect.
There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.