Ethiopia announced yesterday that it has successfully completed the fourth and final filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), located on the Nile River. This news comes two weeks after negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan concluded, which did not yield significant progress. However, the three countries have agreed to resume negotiations in September in Addis Abeba.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce the successful completion of the fourth and final filling of the Renaissance Dam,” stated Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on X, formerly known as Twitter. He acknowledged the numerous challenges faced during the process, including internal obstacles and external pressures.
Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned the filling of the GERD by Ethiopia, deeming it “illegal” and claiming the unilateral action by Addis Abeba to complete the dam’s filling will negatively impact negotiations with Egypt and Sudan downstream.
The negotiations, which were suspended in 2021 but resumed last month, have now been further complicated by this development, according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Ethiopia’s unilateral actions ignore the rights and interests of the downstream countries and their water security, otherwise guaranteed by international law.”
The Egyptian government contends that Ethiopia’s fourth round of filling the dam is a violation of international law. They argue that the 2015 Declaration of Principles mandates agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan on the rules for filling and operating the GERD before any filling can commence.
The construction of the GERD has been a long-standing source of tension and disputes regarding water usage. Both Egypt and Sudan have expressed concerns that the dam’s construction, estimated to cost $4.2 billion, will significantly reduce their share of Nile water. They have consistently urged Addis Abeba to halt the filling process until a mutually agreed-upon agreement is reached.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, views the GERD as crucial to its developmental aspirations and denies that it will harm Egypt’s and Sudan’s water shares. It maintains that the dam will not negatively impact downstream countries. The country is the source of roughly 85% of the river’s flow.
At full capacity, the GERD, which spans 1.8 kilometers in length and stands 145 meters high, has the potential to generate over 5,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power.