ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday that the 2nd filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would be conducted in July and August.
Ethiopia broke ground for its $5 billion flagship hydro dam project in 2011 and original completion year was already overdue by four years. It plans to test two of the hydro scheme’s turbines soon after the second filling, retaining nearly 14 billion cubic meters at the 70bcm capacity reservoir.
Last rainy season, the Horn of Africa country held 4.9bcm for its hydro dam – a mega dam that is capable of generating 6,475 megawatts of electricity. The GERD is solely constructed through domestic mobilization of funds and is expected to fill in the yawning gap in the demand-supply of energy for domestic and industrial use.
Ethiopia also hopes to generate much needed foreign currency from the sale of electricity to neighboring countries.
“Ahead of the 2nd filling, Ethiopia is releasing more water from last year’s storage through newly completed outlets and sharing information. The next filling takes place only during heavy rainfall months of July/August, ensuring benefits in reducing floods in Sudan,” Abiy, the 2019 Nobel laureate for peace, tweeted.
“Ethiopia, in developing Abbay River for its needs, has no intention of causing harm to lower riparian countries. Heavy rains last year enabled successful 1st filling of the GERD while the presence of the GERD itself has undoubtedly prevented severe flooding in neighboring Sudan.”
Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele also said on Twitter: “At #GERD construction the 2 bottom outlets (BO) that provides release of water into the downstream completed, tested & operational. These 2 BOs have capacity of passing entire annual Abbay flow in a year. Provide assurances of flow of water to d/s at no time would be interrupted.”
Egypt and Sudan have been pressing for the need to sign what they describe was “binding agreement” on the rules and procedures of filling and operation while Ethiopia maintains a guideline would suffice.
A 2015 Declaration of Principles signed between the three countries recognizes the need for Ethiopia to carry on with construction while the three countries engage in trilateral negotiations. The second-year filling is part of the ongoing construction as it enables Ethiopia to test its turbines.