Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday hailed the historic early filling of the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River that has led to tensions with Egypt and Sudan, reported The Washington Post.
The Ethiopian government had planned to begin filling the dam’s reservoir this month, in the middle of its rainy season, but Cairo and Khartoum wanted to reach a trilateral agreement first on how the dam would be operated.
“The completion of the first round of filling is a historic moment that showcases Ethiopians’ commitment to the renaissance of our country,” Prime Minister Abiy said in a statement read on state television on Wednesday. “The fact that we reached this milestone by our own efforts when no one else believed in our capabilities to accomplish such initiatives makes the moment even more historic.
Mr. Abiy said the filling of the dam was conducted without causing any harm to anyone. He noted that Ethiopia wanted the dam to be fully operational by early 2023. As the GERD reservoir is now filled with 4.9 billion cubic meters (173 billion cubic feet) of water, Ethiopia is currently in a position to test its first two turbines, which is an important step in producing energy.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s statement came a day after leaders from the three countries held talks in a virtual summit overseen by the African Union aimed at resolving the dam dispute.
After the summit, the leaders agreed to continue with the tripartite negotiations, though it was unclear about the progress that has been made so far.
On Wednesday, the Egyptian presidency also released a statement confirming that negotiation talks on the Nile dam would continue and focus for the time being on giving priority to coming to a legal agreement covering all the rules for filling and operation of the dam.