Ethiopia finished the second phase of filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir on July 16, 2021, the country’s water minister has said.
Seleshi Bekele adds that “extreme rainfall this season in the Nile Basin” has aided a rapid filling of the dam.
GERD is Africa’s largest hydropower project, with a 6,000MW capacity.
Ethiopia’s first phase filling of the dam was in July 2020, during which 4.9Billion cubic metres of water was collected. The second phase was expected to be much higher, raising the volume to 18.4Billion cubic metres of water, though Mr. Bekele hasn’t announced the figures in the latest filling. The 74Billion cubic metre-capacity dam is expected to take five to seven years to fill.
An influential, strident critic of the project is Egypt, which considers GERD as a significant threat to its water supply. Egypt lies downstream of the Nile and has called on international organizations, including the United Nations, to stop Ethiopia from filling the dam while the three countries most affected: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, agree on how to fill it. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has frequently declared that his country’s national security is a red line and stressed the need to reach a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
Egypt and Sudan had hoped to persuade global powers to take a more aggressive position towards Ethiopia and pressure it to return to the negotiating table with different mediators, but the United Nations Security Council declined to condemn Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the dam and called on all three countries to continue the current African Union-led process.