Ethiopia: Nile Dam Talks Resume as Ethiopians Celebrate Progress

An aerial photo of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Negotiations among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) resumed Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announced.

The first round of AU-led talks, which lasted 11 days, were suspended on July 13 after the trio failed to reach an agreement on outstanding issues related with the first stage of filling and operating the massive dam.

The talks that resumed Monday were initially scheduled for last week but were delayed on Sudan's request.

After the previous talks ended, Ambassador Dina Mufti, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, told the Nation that negotiators and observers would submit their reports to the AU secretariat and heads of states of the three countries for further guidance.

The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy Monday said this week's negotiations will continue in the direction set by leaders of the three countries based on the outcomes of the first round of negotiation.

Ethiopia says it will work to end the negotiations in a way that benefits all parties.

CELEBRATIONS

The resumption of talks came a day after millions of Ethiopians at home and across the globe celebrated the successful first phase filling of the GERD.

On Sunday, Ethiopians collectively voiced their support for the mega dam along the Nile River.

According to the organising committee in Addis Ababa, Ethiopians across the globe were told to show their support in whichever way for three minutes, starting at 4pm local time.

In the capital, tens of thousands of people went to the streets to express their support and happiness with the development.

Hailu Abriha, Communication head of The Office of National Council for Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the GERD, daid Sunday's campaign was themed "Our voice for our dam"

"The global campaign intends to convey a strong message to the international community that the dam is being built based on the principle of fair utilisation of resources of Nile Rivers" said Abriha.

The fund also intends to mobilise the public to raise more funds for completing the dam.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen called upon Ethiopians to continue making contributions to complete the dam.

He said the celebration date marked the beginning of the final chapter of the dam's construction.

On Monday, the country tested electricity generation at the dam using the first two installed turbines.

NO WORRY

The global campaign further wants the Ethiopian diaspora to engage in public diplomacy efforts.

It also wants to counter Egypt's continued efforts in the international community to pressure the horn of Africa's nation against its sovereign right to use its Nile water resources.

Egypt fears the project could eventually diminish its historic water share from the Nile River and has been warning against Addis Ababa's move to unilaterally fill the dam.

However, according to some Ethiopian officials, Cairo has so far not complained after Addis Ababa filled the GERD.

"The first phase filling has assured downstream countries that it won't affect their water shares. We want all Nile basin countries and the international community to recognise that," Abriha told the Nation.

"The GERD issue is technical, not political. However, Egypt had been politicising it by taking the matter to the UN Security Council and to the Arab League" he added.

Disputes over the Nile strained relations between Ethiopia and Egypt after Ethiopia rejected calls from Cairo and Khartoum to delay filling the dam pending the final agreement on operations.

Slated for completion in 2023, the $4.8 billion hydro dam project is poised to be Africa's largest.

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