The government of Ethiopia said on Monday it has completed the second filling of the reservoir of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River.
“The second filling of the Renaissance dam has been completed and the water is overflowing,” said Seleshi, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy. Bekele tweeted.
Why it matters: The Egyptian government has vociferously objected to Addis Ababa’s $4 billion megaproject without an international agreement for the operation, fearing the dam would drastically reduce Egypt’s downstream share of the Nile’s waters. The government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has strengthened military and intelligence ties with other governments in East Africa and hinted at a possible military operation against Ethiopia.
A decade of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have failed to resolve the crisis. Egypt and Sudan are demanding that Ethiopia agree to written procedures for the operation of the dam, but the government in Addis Ababa has so far refused.
A draft resolution by Tunisia following the UN Security Council meeting on the GERD on July 8 has made little progress despite Cairo’s vocal support. The Biden administration said earlier this month that it supports a resumption of the African Union-mediated process to end the dispute.
What’s next: The African Union is seeking to resume talks between the three key stakeholders in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo this month, Egyptian media reported.
Now that Ethiopia’s national elections are over, there may be room for compromise by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Abiy’s government has put its political future on the project and the dam will receive its first turbines with the current fill, AFP quoted an unidentified Ethiopian official as saying.
US diplomats have urged calm and warned that a second filling would likely increase tensions. Still, the Biden administration is acting cautiously to avoid the perception that it is taking sides in the dispute, as Donald Trump’s previous administration did with Cairo.
Knowing more: Mohamed Saied examines whether more negotiations under the African Union offer any hope of resolving the dispute.