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Ethiopia won't wait indefinitely to operate dam, warns minister

Redwan Hussein, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, gives a news conference on the current events in Tigray region on 10 November 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency]
Redwan Hussein, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, gives a news conference on the current events in Tigray region on 10 November 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency]

Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Redwan Hussein, yesterday stressed that Ethiopians would not wait "indefinitely and they expect the green light to use their country's resources",in reference to operating its dam project.

Hussein added that Egypt should "encourage us to finish building GERD as soon as possible," noting that both Ethiopia and Egypt should "cooperate in exploiting their resources to face the drought season whether it occurs tomorrow or even after several years."

"We have informed Sudan that we are ready to exchange data regularly to meet their concerns over the security of their smaller dams, but their position now serves the interests of a third party, not the Sudanese people," Hussein said.

The official pointed out that Ethiopia has provided "more opportunities for Egypt and Sudan to benefit from the dam, despite their failure to appreciate it," stressing that Addis Ababa would use its resources "without causing any significant harm to downstream countries."

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.

READ: Ethiopia calls on Egypt and Sudan to change their rhetoric regarding the Renaissance Dam

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.

In July last year, Ethiopia informed downstream countries Egypt and Sudan that it had started the second phase of filling the dam's reservoir in an effort to take advantage of the rainy season. Egypt responded saying: "Addis Ababa is violating international laws and norms, and is treating the River Nile as its own property."

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AfricaEgyptEthiopiaNewsSudan
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