Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday that the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will go ahead as scheduled during the country’s rainy season in July.
“We do not wish to harm the water interests of Egypt and Sudan,” he added in a speech to the Ethiopian Parliament on Tuesday.
Ahmed also noted Addis Ababa’s rejection of Sudan’s proposal to form an international quartet to lead GERD negotiations, saying that “Ethiopia renews its demand for mediation by the African Union in the negotiations.”
The Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy Seleshi Bekele announced last week that construction work on GERD is now at a critical stage, having reached 79 percent completion.
The next rainy season, which runs from July to October, will complete the dam’s second filling, Bekele said, stressing that “the second filling period will not be delayed by any means.”
Bekele’s announcement was made on the 10th anniversary of the GERD’s construction, at a a symposium organized by the minister to review the dam’s progress, consult on developments with stakeholders, and review negotiations.
Sudan has warned that Ethiopia’s unilateral filling of GERD will have serious and irreversible consequences that could negatively effect half of its population.
The Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, submitted official requests to both Washington and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union to mediate and help resolve the issue.
Hamdok said that the current negotiations have failed to reach a legal and binding agreement between the three parties.
Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have held several rounds of negotiations around the dam over the past years, with little results.
The construction of the dam, which began in 2011, is considered to be one of Egypt’s most serious water issues.
Egypt, which relies considerably on freshwater from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, and has insisted that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam’s filling process.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stressed the importance of the project to bolster its economy, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity.