ADDIS ABABA— In a joint statement, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia yesterday stated that Ethiopia has legitimate right to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew stressed that Ethiopia has the right to develop its own natural resource in its effort to eradicate poverty.
The GERD construction was commenced with the aim to connect huge number of the country’s population who still remain off the grid without causing significant harm to the downstream countries, who depend on the Abay River.
GERD is under construction taking into account these concerns from the beginning. Though Ethiopia is making all efforts to use state of the art technology, given that the downstream nations want assurances meant that there needed to be negotiation.
In this context, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been conducting negotiations over and over to help narrow the differences between the three countries.
The negotiations that have been conducted in U.S. were productive and have led to agreements; although some issues that are technical and legal in nature have not been resolved.
Stating on the need of protecting the national interest of Ethiopia, the Minister pointed out his country’s belief that the unresolved issue could be solved through negotiations, and its desire to hold thorough talks on the issues.
“While there is urgency among U.S. and Egyptian negotiators to sign the agreements sooner, he continued, we believe the Ethiopian people should be involved and be made aware on the issue, and this will take time.”
He further noted that the role of U.S. and the World Bank in the negotiations should be made clear, as these parties want to go beyond the role of mediators and go as far as involving themselves in drafting the legal framework.
Gedu stated that it would be behoove of Egypt to understand that the solution for all the concerned parties is to negotiate and reach an agreement, and the threats its making does not benefit any side except for straining the relations between the countries.
During the negotiation process, Sudan had showed its support for the project; it is only Egypt that wants to control the whole water.
Mentioning Ethiopia’s insistence on making sure the construction of the dam does not bring harm to the downstream countries, he said that Ethiopia is going ahead with the project by negotiating.
The Minister added that the U.S. should play a positive role in pushing all parties (countries) to reach to agreement by themselves.
Giving updates on the project to the Media, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele (Eng.) stated that the construction of the dam is moving ahead fast, after solving the problems that were seen with regards to the steel work, turbine installation and contractor’s inefficiency. “All contractors have recently attended meeting in the PM’s office to assess the construction stage.”
Noting that the outbreak of Corona virus in China is hindering the country from importing the necessary equipment needed for the dam, Sileshi said that they are working as much as possible to complete the construction at the set time frame.
The dam will start to hold water in July and at that time it will hold 4.9 billion cubic meters of water. And following this, it will start to produce power beginning from February or March.
In connection with the ongoing talks on the dam, Dr. Engineer Sileshi said: “We do not want improper legal frameworks to be put forward in relation to water filling. The agreement that we are going to sign requires greater care. We have to discuss with the public and concerned bodies,” he said.
The Ethiopian Herald March 4/2020