Third Round Filling of GERD Reservoir Complete

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has concluded the third stage filling of the reservoir of its flagship project Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built on the Abay River.

The successful completion of the third time filling was announced a day after the dam’s second turbine with a 375 megawatt electric generating capacity began producing power.

In a televised congratulatory message from the project site today, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the third filling of the dam is a spectacular moment for Ethiopia and “its true friends” globally.

Ethiopia, a source of 85% river Nile water, is filling the GERD reservoir through a gradual process and only during its rainy season to allow the river to continue flowing to downstream countries.

The process of filling the reservoir began in the 2020 rainy season, collecting a target of 4.9 billion cubic meters (BCM). The following year, the reservoir held 13.5BCM water.

The third round of filling that brought the volume of water in the reservoir approximately to 22BCM has concluded today.

The incoming water is now flowing over the top of the dam in addition to through the bottom outlets, said Ethiopian Electric Power- a state-run electric producer and owner of the GERD project. The reservoir’s total capacity is 74 BCM.

Key for Regional Integration

The €3.48-billion hydropower dam is currently supplying 750 MW of electricity to the National Power Grid. Once completed, however, it will have an installed production capacity of 5,150 MW, able to produce an average of 15,700 GWh every year.

Ethiopia pins its hope on the GERD to provide electricity to nearly 60 million Ethiopians who do not have access at the moment.

Beyond that, officials expect that the dam would play a key role in expediting Africa’s push for economic integration through electricity links.

PM Abiy said the third-phase filling of the GERD “heralds a victorious event not only for Ethiopia but also for Africa, which is working towards economic integration.

“As energy integration is one part of the efforts in the continent, this dam would help us to sell power to neighboring countries,” he added.

Ethiopia is already connected with Djibouti and Sudan through electric transmission lines, providing energy to the two countries. Recently, Addis Ababa concluded a power purchase agreement with Kenya to start export and is also in talks with other countries for similar arrangements.

The dam will provide more generation capacity for Ethiopia to export clean electricity, avoiding the emissions of more than two million tonnes of CO2 a year.

Call for Dam talks to continue

Prime Minister Abiy said the Nile water resource if used properly, can benefit not only countries in the river basin but also other African states.

He also called urged Sudan and Egypt to return to the negotiation table to settle their issues concerning the dam.

Ethiopia carried out the third round of filling amid opposition from Egypt and Sudan – a view the two countries hold since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Recent, talks held under the auspices of the African Union (AU) failed to yield a three-way agreement on the dam’s filling and operations. Cairo and Khartoum insist that Addis Ababa should cease filling the reservoir until such a deal is reached.

However, the filling is a natural part of the dam’s construction process and cannot be stopped, Ethiopia said. Its invitations for Khartoum and Cairo to send their experts to observe the filling process, with the trilateral talks over the dam ongoing, got rejected.

On Saturday, Aby reiterated that Ethiopia has no intention to cause harm to the downstream countries other than meeting its electric power needs.

“Just as the Abay River has linked the three countries for thousands of years, the GERD built on the river allows us to live in cooperation with our neighbors,” Abiy said.

“More importantly, as the dam prevents sedimentation, it will reduce the amount of wealth and human lives lost in the downstream countries due to floods,” he said, urging them to cooperate for equitable utilization of the Abbay water.

However, he said, if there are forces that do not believe that the Nile has been given to all the three countries and deny a country to use its rightful share, they just distort the laws of nature.

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