Ethiopian state media announced on Monday that it has finished filling the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River for the second year in a row: a move that has already enraged Egypt. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a $4 billion hydroelectric project, is said to be critical to Addis Ababa’s economic development and power generation. However, it has raised concerns about water scarcity and safety in Egypt and Sudan, both of which rely on the Nile’s water supply.
According to local sources, the Addis Ababa government filled 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in the second fill phase of GERD. This rate is twice as high as Ethiopia’s filling for the GERD project last year. In this context, Egypt and Sudan are concerned about Ethiopia’s unilateral stance on GERD.
Egypt said it received official notice from Ethiopia last month that it had started filling the reservoir for the second time, and it had opposed the move. Egypt sees the filling as a serious threat to its Nile water supply, which it is nearly exclusively reliant on. Likewise, Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and the potential impact on its own dams and water stations.
Long-running diplomatic efforts to address the conflict between the three countries have largely failed. The US has also warned that Ethiopia’s dam filling could exacerbate tensions, and has urged all sides to avoid taking unilateral steps.
Egypt and Sudan demand to reach a legally binding agreement that will determine the operational and environmental impacts of the GERD project. In this context, both countries have not achieved any remarkable results from the negotiations that have been going on for more than ten years, and they hold the Ethiopian administration responsible for.