ADDIS ABABA (HAN) March 19. 2021. Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. Monitoring Regional Issues. Ethiopia on Wednesday said it will not delay a planned second round water filling of its controversial hydroelectric dam project known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Dr Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, said the second round of water filling will be conducted next summer as scheduled.
The announcement was made during a water experts forum in Addis Ababa held to discuss the current progress of the dam, and the status of the tripartite negotiations and related developments.
Minister said the construction of the dam is almost 80 per cent complete.
His remark comes following Sudan’s request for the inclusion of outside mediators, including the US, to the currently Africa Union (AU) brokered Nile dam talks.
During visits by Sudan and Egypt in recent weeks, senior officials of these two countries stressed a need for reaching an agreement before Ethiopia proceeds with the next round of dam filling planned for the upcoming rainy season.
Khartoum earlier wrote to the United Nations, European Union and US seeking their involvement in the ongoing AU-led tripartite negotiations.
Ethiopia has rejected the calls by Sudan for more mediators.
“Ethiopia generally opposes a mediation role by outside parties even if the African Union welcomes it,” Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Dina Mufti, told reporters on Tuesday.
“The tripartite talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should be concluded between the three countries themselves, not through mediators,” Dina said. “We have great respect for the African Union. Ethiopia is committed to solving Africa’s problems by Africa.”
The role of the mediator is to coordinate the negotiations but the finalising of the final agreement should be left for the three parties, Dina said.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is currently under construction at a cost of over nearly five billion dollars, is said to be the largest in Africa and will have the capacity to generate over 6,000 megawatts.
The power plant is a hope for 65 million Ethiopians who do not yet have access to electricity.