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Ethiopia delays filling of flagship dam, vows to heed downstream nations' concerns

July 9, 2023 at 2:14 pm

A view of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on February 19, 2022 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

Ethiopia will delay the next round of filling a major new hydroelectric dam on the Nile River, the country’s prime minister has declared, reports Anadolu Agency.

The filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be postponed until September, Abiy Ahmed said Friday during a session at the Ethiopian House of Representatives.

Initially, the fourth filing of the dam had been scheduled for early August.

Abiy emphasized Ethiopia’s commitment to addressing the concerns of lower riparian nations, including South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt, on the dam’s filling process.

“This year’s filling will be done differently from the previous three rounds by carrying out the filling in such a way as to alleviate the concerns of the neighboring people,” he said.

“Instead of completing the filling in early August like in the previous rounds, it will be done at the beginning of September or at the end of August.”

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In an effort to foster regional cooperation and maintain positive relations with its neighbors, Abiy affirmed that Ethiopia acknowledged the concerns of downstream nations and was determined to take them into consideration during the filling of the GERD.

The dam is a flagship hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile but has been a source of diplomatic tension among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

Sudan and Egypt have raised concerns about the potential impact of the dam on water supply and agricultural activities.

By extending the filling timeline, Ethiopia aims to ensure that these concerns are addressed through negotiations and consultations.

Once fully operational, the GERD is expected to generate significant amounts of electricity for Ethiopia, aiding the country’s development efforts and providing energy access to millions of its citizens.