Ethiopia asserted its insistence to continue constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite Egypt’s stance. “The dam is 63% completed and it is being constructed around-the-clock,” said Ethiopian Water, Irrigation, and Electricity Minister Sileshi Bekele.
In a press conference in Addis Ababa, Bekele told reporters on Saturday, that the GERD has no significant impact on downstream countries. “When Ethiopia says that GERD has no significant impact on the downstream countries, this is not an unempirical pronouncement but a factual statement based on scientific research,” he added, according to the Ethiopian National Agency (ENA).
Ethiopia is constructing the dam according to the schedule, the quality, and the standard that the dam of this size requires, according to Bekele. He added that he has provided about 150 documents that are related to the hydrological situation of the dam and other matters to the other parties (Egypt and Sudan) “in a transparent manner”.
Bekele called on the three countries to take the dam as a real opportunity that provides lots of benefits for the three countries.
The Ethiopian minister claimed that Egypt does not sufficiently understand the benefits of the dam. He also believes that the GERD will reduce the amount of sediments and floods that affects dams in downstream countries, including Egypt and Sudan.
Tensions between Egypt and upstream countries have been roused following the Ethiopian-Sudanese refusal to sign the initial report of the impact studies of the GERD.
In response, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that the Nile river’s water is a matter of life and death to Egypt. The Ethiopian cabinet said Thursday that the Renaissance Dam meant life or death to Ethiopia, too.
The statement of the Ethiopian cabinet stressed continuing working with Sudan and Egypt for a fair and equitable use of the Nile’s water.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is set to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in December in Cairo to discuss the situation of the negotiations on the Renaissance Dam.
The GERD, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, is under construction in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile river. Egypt has expressed concerns that the construction of the dam could negatively affect its historic Nile water share of 55 billion sqm, which it has had access to since a 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan.