Tag Archives: Sudan

How Ethiopia’s River Nile dam will be filled: Great GERD design

18 Jul

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Satellite images taken between 27 June and 12 July 2020 show a steady increase in the amount of water being held back by the new mega dam, which straddles the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.

This has angered Egypt and Sudan, the two countries downstream of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), as the timetable for filling it is yet to be agreed at deadlocked negotiations.

Credit: BBC NewsDam picture credit: BBC News

State media in Ethiopia has backtracked after reports that suggested the dam was being filled deliberately.

But this all gives the false impression that filling up the dam will be like filling up a bath – and that Ethiopia can turn on and off a tap at will.

Can’t it be stopped?

No. The reservoir behind the dam will fill naturally during Ethiopia’s rainy season, which began in June and lasts until September.

Given the stage that the construction is at “there is nothing that can stop the reservoir from filling to the low point of the dam”, Dr Kevin Wheeler, who has been following the $4bn (£3.2bn) Gerd project since 2012, told the BBC.

From the start of the process in 2011, the dam has been built around the Blue Nile as it continued to flow through the enormous building site.

Builders worked on the vast structures on either side of the river without any problem. In the middle, during the dry season, the river was diverted through culverts, or pipes, to allow that section to be built up.

The bottom of the middle section is now complete and the river is currently flowing through bypass channels at the foot of the wall.

As the impact of the rainy season begins to be felt at the dam site, the amount of water that can pass through those channels will soon be less than the amount of water entering the area, meaning that it will back up further and add to the lake that will sit behind the dam, Dr Wheeler says.

The Ethiopian authorities can close the gates on some of the channels to increase the amount of water being held back but this may not be necessary, he says.

What’s the next stage?

In the first year, the Gerd will retain 4.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water taking it up to the height of the lowest point on the dam wall, allowing Ethiopia to test the first set of turbines. On average, the total annual flow of the Blue Nile is 49bcm.

In the dry season the lake will recede a bit, allowing for the dam wall to be built up and in the second year a further 13.5bcm will be retained.

By that time, the water level should have reached the second set of turbines, meaning that the flow of water can be managed more deliberately.

Ethiopia says it will take between five to seven years to fill up the dam to its maximum flood season capacity of 74bcm. At that point, the lake that will be created could stretch back some 250km (155 miles) upstream.

Between each subsequent flood season the reservoir will be lowered to 49.3bcm.

So why is Egypt unhappy?

Egypt, which almost entirely relies on the Nile for its water needs, is concerned that in most years of the filling it is not guaranteed a specific volume.

And once the filling stage is over, Ethiopia is reluctant to be tied to a figure of how much water to release as when fully operational, the dam will become the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa.

In years of normal or above average rainfall that should not be a problem, but Egypt is nervous about what might happen during prolonged droughts that could last several years.

 

/BBC News

Communiqué of the Extraordinary African Union Bureau Video-teleconference on GERD

28 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, and Chairperson of the African Union (AU) convened a video-teleconference Meeting of the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, on 26 June 2020, to discuss developments pertaining to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

All the Members of the Bureau participated in the video-teleconference Meeting as follows:
• His Excellency, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo,
• His Excellency, President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
• His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya,
• His Excellency, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Republic of Mali,

His Excellency, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and His Excellency, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of the Republic of Sudan, were invited to participate in the meeting. His Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC)also participated in the Meeting.

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Egypt calls for UN intervention in talks on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam

20 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Egypt on Friday called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene to restart talks on the $4 billion hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan.

Talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were halted once again this week, this time only about a fortnight before its expected start-up.

“The Arab Republic of Egypt took this decision in light of the stalled negotiations that took place recently on the Renaissance Dam as a result of Ethiopian stances that are not positive,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The latest round of talks, which had started on June 9 over video conference, followed a previous round of negotiations in Washington, which ended without agreement in February.

OPINION: Is Sudan’s neutral stance hindering agreement over Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam?

Egypt, which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for its freshwater supplies, sees it as a potentially existential threat. It is anxious to secure a legally binding deal that would guarantee minimum flows and a mechanism for resolving disputes before the dam starts operating.

The dam is the centrepiece in Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

/ Middle East Monitor

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Arab League lends support to Egypt, Sudan in GERD talks

17 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The United States’ National Security Council (NSC) said on Wednesday that it is time to reach a deal over Ethiopia’s disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before filling it with Nile River water.

In a tweet on its official account, the NSC said that “257 million people in east #Africa are relying on #Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

“The technical issues have been resolved,” the NSC said, referring to the ongoing tripartite negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, before adding that it’s “time to get GERD deal done before filling it with Nile River water!”  

Source: AhramOnline

 

The Arab League has lent its support to Egypt and Sudan in the ongoing negotiations with Ethiopia over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Hossam Zaki, the Arab League Deputy Secretary-General. 

In an interview with state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA), Zaki said, “The Egyptian handling of the GERD issue was very wise, but unfortunately, the Ethiopian side’s intransigence and procrastination brought us to this point.”

He added that he wished for the issue to be positively concluded through political negotiation.

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Legal differences emerge over Ethiopian dam filling agreement

16 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

June 15, 2020 (Sudan Tribune) New legal disagreements emerged the tripartite talks on the first filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) forcing the parties to extend the talks for more time.

The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the first filling of the giant hydropower dam continued on Monday according to a statement issued by the Sudanese government which initiated the ongoing videoconference meetings after the failure of Washington meetings to break the deadlock.

However, the Sudanese government stressed that “great progress” has been achieved on the issues related to the operation of the GERD, the safety of the dam, the long-term operation, data exchange and the technical committee for the needed coordination between the upstream and downstream countries.

All these points dealt in fact with the concerns of Sudan.

Nonetheless, the statement also pointed to progress on the “first filling of the dam” which is the main issue of concern for Egypt but did not develop on this matter.

Egyptian and Ethiopian government trade accusations about the bad faith of each other, as the public debate moved gradually to the ownership of the water and two sides accuse each other of seeking to dictate its will on the other.

Despite the announced progress in the discussions, the statement stressed that “legal” differences appeared between the parties.

“Differences arose between the three delegations regarding legal aspects, especially in binding character and legal force of the agreement and how to amend it,” further said the statement.

Secondly, the parties are still at odds on “the mechanism for the settlement of disputes over the implementation of the agreement,” underscored the statement.

The third point of discord is how to link the agreement to other “irrelevant issues related to water sharing”, said the Sudanese government which seeks to bring the parties to conclude a deal before the rainy seasons to enable Ethiopia to launch the long term filling process.

The legal teams of the three countries were tasked to deliberate on the three legal dispute, in the presence of the observers, before to submit their findings to a ministerial meeting that will be held on Tuesday, June 16.

Treaties often contain a mix of mandatory and non-mandatory elements. The parties have to determine clearly what is revocable and how to settle a dispute over it.

(ST)

 

 

Sudan is the most affected by filling of Ethiopian dam, says Irrigation Minister

7 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

 

“Sudan is the most affected by the dam,” Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas, June 6, 2020

 

June 6, 2020 (Sudan Tribune) – Sudan’s irrigation minister Saturday stressed the need for an agreement on the filing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) saying that his country is the most affected by its construction.

 Minister Yasir Abbas made his remarks during a TV talk show with the Sudanese foreign minister Asma Abdalla on Saturday on the GERD.

The talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the GERD are stalled after Ethiopian refusal to discuss the remaining issuing under a U.S.-led initiative to settle the dispute between the three countries.

“The filling of the reservoir of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) affects the storage in the reservoirs of Roseires and Sennar dams on the Blue Nile,” said Abbas before to stress that this makes agreement on the principles of initial filling important.

The minister further said that the operation of the Roseires Dam which is at 60 km from the border with Ethiopia depends primarily on the operation of the Renaissance Dam at 15 km from the Sudanese border.

“Sudan is the most affected by the dam,” he emphasized.

The capacity of the Roseires dam reservoir is 7,300 billion cubic meters(bcm), while the GERD water storage capacity is 74 billion which is greater than the Blue Nile yearly average flow of 49 bcm.

Ethiopia reportedly proposes to release 31 bcm of the Blue Nile flow per year while Egypt wants to receive at least 40 bcm to ensure its agricultural production.

In mid-January, the U.S. Treasury announced that the three countries agreed that the initial filling of the dam, due to begin in July, will aim for a level of 595 meters above sea level and early electricity generation while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during severe droughts.

The minister said his country is accused by Egypt and Ethiopia of siding with either country, asserting that Sudan takes its positions based on its national interests without harming the interest of the other two countries.

For her part, the foreign minister reiterated Sudan’s rejection to start the filing of the GERD’s reservoir before the conclusion of an agreement between the three countries.

“The agreement on the principles of filling and operation is a prerequisite that Sudan has put forward throughout the different negotiating rounds,” she said. (ST)

 

 

History Will Judge [Ethiopian] Negotiators on GERD [Will It?]

20 May

Posted by The Ethiopia observstory (TEO )

By Addis Fortune, February 8, 2020

Belatedly, negotiators over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (DERD) took the rare gesture in explaining to the public the positions they have taken during tough talks with their counterparts from Sudan and Egypt. They faced a select group of people gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel late last week, in a forum organised by the Institute for Strategic Studies (ISA), after their return from Washington, D.C., the capital of the convener and the headquarters of the World Bank.

To their disappointment, the damage has already been done. Public perception has already been formed, seeing the negotiators in disfavour, believing that they have compromised Ethiopia’s national interest under duress from the US government and the World Bank. The Hyatt session was an attempt to redress this and assure the public that no document will be signed if it is deemed against Ethiopia’s interests. Indeed, the team, led by Seleshi Bekele (PhD), minister of Water, Irrigation & Energy, has delved into plenty of technical details to make its point and appealed for public understanding.

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Sudan rejects Ethiopia’s partial Agreement proposal on filling dam

14 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

On Tuesday the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources announced that Sudan had rejected an Ethiopian proposal to sign a partial agreement on filling the Renaissance Dam Lake, which is expected to start next July.

In a written statement distributed to the media, the ministry announced that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok communicated to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Sudan’s position on the proposal, in correspondence that was intended as a response to a letter previously sent by the Ethiopian prime minister.

The statement added: “We consider that signing any partial agreement for the first stage cannot be approved due to the technical and legal aspects, which must be included in the in the accord first, and which are determined by the coordination mechanism, data exchange, the safety of the dam, and environmental and social impacts.”

The statement quoted Hamad Saleh, Sudan’s chief negotiator, stating: “Most of the issues are still under negotiation, the most important of which are the coordination mechanism, data exchange, the safety of the dam and environmental and social impacts that are closely related not only to the first filling of the lake, but to all the rest of the stages and long-term operations, and therefore the agreement cannot be fragmented.”

Ethiopia: Dam dispute stokes anti-Egypt feelings

In his letter, Hamdok emphasised his position on reaching a tripartite agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, stressing that: “The way to reach a comprehensive agreement is the immediate resumption of negotiations.”

In 2011, Ethiopia started building a six billion US dollar-dam on the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile.

The Renaissance Dam raised the concerns of Sudan and Egypt, in terms of affecting their supply of the Nile water. Since that date, the three countries have entered into negotiations to agree on limiting the impact of the Ethiopian dam on both Sudan and Egypt.

Last February, Ethiopia refused to sign a proposal for an agreement submitted by the US, which was involved in the negotiations last November as a mediator alongside the World Bank Group (WBG), to solve the differences between the three countries.

Saleh pointed to a Sudanese attempt to resume negotiations with reference to “the Washington track”, explaining: “We are expecting to see the results of those contacts by resuming negotiations soon.”

/Middle East Monitor

 

 

 

 

 

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