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June 14, 2021
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Egypt, Sudan need binding agreement before Ethiopia uses rainwater…

Ethiopia determined to undertake the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during the rainy months of July and August 

binding agreement _ Egypt _ Ethiopia _ Sudan
79 percent of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam is completed ( Photo : Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy)

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Ethiopia is making preparations to undertake the second phase of filling Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with the aim to commence generating hydroelectric power using two turbines. 

A report by State media, Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Monday, said that Benishangul Gumuz regional state job creation agency  announced that clearing the forest will start. Over five thousand youth are said to have temporary employment opportunities. 

The land to be cleared will be used as reservoir for the water retained from the second phase of the filling which is set to happen in the Ethiopian rainy season, July and August. A total of 4,854 hectares of land will be cleared which will retain an additional  13.5 billion cubic meters of water. 

The stalled negotiation and the demand for “binding agreement”  

The negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the filling and operation of GERD has been stalled for several months now. 

The two countries (Egypt and Sudan) expressed their stance this month that they need to have a binding agreement before Ethiopia could undertake the second filling of the Dam. 

Sudan proposed this month to take the negotiation outside the African Union led one. It wanted the involvement of The United States of America, the United Nations and the European Union. Ethiopia declined saying adhering to the principle of African solution to African problems is desirable for the negotiation. 

Sudan went further to claim that the second phase of the dam will constitute a national security concern if undertaken without agreement.  In a move that seems to be military preparation, Sudan signed a military agreement with Egypt. It was signed with a view that “both countries face common challenges and threats to their national security,” as Mohamed Farid, Chief-of-Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, said. 

Apart from the military moves, Egypt continues to reach out to other African countries. This week, Abdel  Fetah Al-Sisi, hosted Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye, to  whom he told “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) represents an “existential” issue that affects the lives of millions of Egyptian people,” as reported by Ahram online. 

He is also cited as saying “I affirmed the necessity of seeking to reach a legally binding agreement that organises the process of filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam as soon as possible” .

Ethiopia rejects that it needs a binding agreement with Egypt and Sudan to use rain water to undertake the second filling of the dam. The understanding about the kind of agreement that the two lower riparian countries are demanding, as far as Ethiopia is concerned, is that they want to negotiate how the Nile water is going to be used in the future. 

For Ethiopia, the issue at hand is the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the agreement should focus on that, not on the use of Nile water.  

Earlier this month, the Ethiopian government disclosed that the entire project is 79 percent completed as of this month. Heavy rain in July and August is expected to significantly increase the volume of the river. 

More than 80 percent of the Nile river originates from Ethiopia – a country that never used its share of the water for millennia.  

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