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Ethiopia completes second filling of controversial Nile mega-dam

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia.

By AFP, Xinhua & Agencies
Ethiopia has completed second filling of the reservoir of its huge dam on the Blue Nile river for a second year.

This was confirmed by Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele, who said the dam filled rapidly due to prolonged rains in the country.

He said the Horn country was read for the next phase: electricity generation.

“The next milestone for GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) construction is to realise the early generation in the next few months. Congratulations to people of Ethiopia!”

Despite this, a Sudanese official on Sunday said that no drop in the water level of the Blue Nile has been detected on its end at start of the second filling of the GERD. This is in contrast to July last year when Sudan raised alarm over declining water levels after Ethiopia started filling the dam for the first time.

“Since April, Al-Daim station on the border with Ethiopia has not monitored any drop in the daily level of the water coming from the Ethiopian Plateau to Sudan,” Hamid Mohamed Ali, director of Sudan’s Al-Rusaires Dam, said in a statement yesterday.

“Although Ethiopia started the second filling of the GERD, the daily water amounts are stable,” he noted.

But Ali stressed that, despite Ethiopia’s start of the second of filling, a legal and binding deal should still be signed regarding filling and operating of the mega-dam.

The Al-Rusaires Dam on the Blue Nile, which lies some 100km from GERD, was established in 1966 with a storage capacity of 3.35 billion cubic metres.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been in talks for years, under the umbrella of the African Union, over the technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

Sudan proposed a mediation quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the African Union on solving the GERD dispute. Ethiopia, however, has rejected this proposal.

In February, Ethiopia said it would carry on with the second-phase 13.5-billion-cubic-metre filling of the GERD in June. The volume of the first-phase filling last year was 4.9 billion cubic meters.

Ethiopia, which started building the GERD in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam project, while Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the Nile river for its freshwater needs, are concerned that the GERD will affect their shares of the water resources. Nation.co.ke