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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ethiopia to start the second phase of GERD reservoir filling in August 2021

Ethiopia is planning to start the second phase of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) reservoir in August 2021, when the country is due for its next rainy season, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday, Al Arabiya reports. Ahmed’s announcement, which came as Addis Ababa celebrated the completion of the dam’s first-year filling targets, came despite ongoing negotiations with Egypt and Sudan over the dam’s filling timeline and operations. The second phase is aimed at collecting 18.4 bcm of water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured this year from rain and flooding from the Blue Nile. Ethiopia said earlier that the dam is expected to take between 5-7 years to fill, and is expected to reach full energy generation capacity by 2023, with generation geared to start as early as January or February 2021.

The entire hydroelectric project is now 78% complete and has so far cost USD 3.3 bn, overshooting initial estimates for the price tag by USD 1.1 bn, and bringing up the new projected total costs to USD 4.4 bn, GERD project manager Kifle Hora said.

Three-way discussions are trudging along: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s irrigation ministers prepared on Friday a preliminary draft agreement that includes the three countries’ proposals and outlines the points of contention, according to an Irrigation Ministry statement. Friday’s meeting is the latest in the African Union-mediated talks that resumed last week after a seven-day suspension. Technical committees from Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa will continue to meet until next Friday, 28 August, at which point they will bring the remaining sticking points and a roadmap for further negotiations to AU Chair Cyril Ramaphosa.

Fresh concerns over GERD’s effect on downstream agriculture: Egyptian farmers are biting their nails about the effect GERD might have on their already dwindling water supply after years of difficult irrigation, write the Associated Press and the National.

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