Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s request to increase GERD water flow

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Last week, after a year of hiatus, the tripartite ministers met in Cairo to continue talks about how water should be filled and released in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Egypt wants the dam to release a minimum of 40 billion cubic meters of water annually. Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 percent of its freshwater and it wants the GERD’s reservoir to release a higher volume of water than Ethiopia is willing to guarantee. Ethiopia has not said exactly how much water they are willing to release but they feel that they should be the one to determine this amount.
Last Wednesday, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Sileshi Bekele responded to Egypt’s request by saying they were contradicting commitments previously made between the three countries.
“Ethiopia has completely refused the new proposal, because it goes against our sovereignty,” he told media on Wednesday September 18. “It is unnecessary and harmful to Ethiopia’s interest,” Sileshi said.
According to Sileshi, Egypt’s new proposal is related to the operation of the hydropower project and the water level of Aswan High Dam and annual flow of the water.
“The proposal is developed separately and we can’t agree with that. We will prepare our counter proposal,” he said.
He also said it should be Ethiopian not Egyptian experts that make recommendations on the project. “The issue is technical not political. We have registered several positive results in past discussions and we have transparently delivered information to stakeholders but the reporting from Egypt goes against the facts,” he explained.
The proposal stated Ethiopia should release more water when the Aswan Dam goes below 165 meters. ‘It is unacceptable since we don’t have information about their water usage, and this does not take into account our future developmental plan,” he explained.
Sudan and Ethiopia will come up with a counterproposal during a meeting from September 30 to October 3 in Khartoum. “In the upcoming meeting a panel of experts from the three countries, will go over a proposal tabled in Cairo on September 25, 2018.
In first two days of the up coming meeting the panel of experts will look at the new proposals and counter proposals.
Sileshi said GERD will start power production by the end of 2020 with two turbines. Currently about six companies are involved after the state owned Metal and Engineering Corporation was excluded from the project.
The tripartite ministerial meeting has been halted due to political instability in Sudan for the past year. GERD will generate over 6,000MW of electricity.