The Ethiopian authorities demanded that both Egypt and Sudan change their rhetoric regarding the Renaissance Dam and to raise the tone of peace-building.
This came in a statement by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. He affirmed that his country has ambitions to build a modern economy based on agriculture and industry and that it is committed to developing social infrastructure, education and health systems.
Abiy Ahmed noted that electricity is an essential infrastructure that Ethiopia lacks, and more than 53 er cent of its citizens, or about 60 million people, do not have access to it. He added that, without electricity, a country could not defeat poverty, achieve comprehensive growth, secure a decent life for its citizens and achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental development.
Abi Ahmed pointed to the benefits to Sudan and Egypt from building the dam. In Sudan, the dam provides adequate protection against devastating floods and the effects of water shortages during droughts and helps Sudan's water infrastructure function optimally, receiving an orderly flow.
Egypt can benefit from conserving water at the dam rather than wasting billions of cubic metres. According to Abi Ahmed, the dam will also help protect the Aswan High Dam.
Next February, Ethiopia also announced its intention to remove 17,000 hectares of forests in the vicinity of the Renaissance Dam in preparation for the third filling of the dam which is built on the Blue Nile River.
This came during a meeting that included the Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation, Aisha Mohamed, and officials from the Ethiopian Federal Government.
Officials said the removal of forests would likely be completed within 60 days of starting work.
For their part, Egyptian experts say that the second filling of the Ethiopian dam has not been completed, in the first place.
The Ethiopian newspaper, Capital, said that the work on the Renaissance Dam had been completed to test the production of energy in the coming days.
The newspaper quoted sources saying that the dam is expected to generate 700 megawatts at a pre-production stage.
Officials from the Ministry of Water and Energy have claimed that the dam will cover 20 per cent of Ethiopia's needs when it first starts producing electricity.
Seleshi Bekele, chief dam negotiator and adviser in the Ethiopian Prime Minister's office, said in November that the overall progress on the dam's construction was 82 per cent.
Western sources had revealed a visit by the American envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, to Cairo's Egyptian capital at the end of January. Egypt wishes to urge the US administration to play a decisive role after receiving information related to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed's confirmation of his government's intention to complete the second filling of the dam and initiate the third stage of filling. According to experts, Egypt suffers from a severe water shortage, and these filling operations will make the situation more complicated.
The Ethiopian Council of Ministers held its first session this year at the dam site on Wednesday to assess the past 100 days for all ministries and discuss the economy's challenges in light of the war that Ethiopia is witnessing against the Tigray Liberation Front in the north.
The Ethiopian Minister of Planning and Development, Fitsum Assefa, spoke about the economy and its relationship to the challenges facing Ethiopia. She said that, despite the difficult situation in the country and many difficulties faced due to the war in the north, the macro-economic sector had made good progress, with financial revenues of more than 800 million dollars through exports.