THE Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers Ethiopia’s announcement of the operation of the Renaissance Dam a violation of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed in 2015.
Ethiopia officially launched the inaugural electricity production of the Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) with a capacity of 375 megawatts on Sunday.
The official launch of the first operation of this mega-dam was presided over by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the presence of several senior officials.
According to Egyptian diplomacy, the unilateral operation of the Renaissance Dam was a further step by Ethiopia in violating its obligations under the 2015 Declaration of Principles Agreement signed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister.
Ahmed has on the other hand hailed the launch of the electricity generation process from the Renaissance Dam, congratulating citizens on such an achievement.
In a tweet, Abiy Ahmed said that today, the first turbine of the Renaissance Dam, the largest power plant in Africa, has started generating electricity.
This step is good news for our continent and the downstream countries we plan to work with, he added.
By July 2021, Ethiopia had completed the second filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam with over 13.9 billion cubic meters of water.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is, since the launch of the project in 2011, a serious bone of contention with Sudan and Egypt, both dependent on the Nile for their water resources.
Cairo invokes a historical right on the Nile, guaranteed since a treaty signed in 1929 between Egypt and Sudan, then represented by Britain, the former colonial power. Egypt had obtained a right of veto on the construction of projects on the river.
In 1959, after an agreement with Khartoum on the sharing of water from the Nile, Egypt was allocated a quota of 66 percent of the annual flow of the Nile, against 22 percent for Sudan.
Ethiopia was not a party to these agreements and has never considered itself bound by them. In 2010, a new treaty signed by the Nile basin countries, despite the opposition of Egypt and Sudan, removed the Egyptian veto and authorised irrigation and hydroelectric dam projects.
When the matter was referred to the UN last summer, it recommended that the three countries continue their talks under the aegis of the African Union (AU). Cairo and Khartoum, concerned about their water supply, asked Addis Ababa to stop filling the dam.
Ethiopia had nevertheless carried on last July with the second phase of filling the dam, which is said to be one of the largest in Africa with an initial production target of 6,500 megawatts, revised downwards to 5,000 MW, for a total estimated cost of $4.2bn.
Located on the Blue Nile, about 30 kilometres from the Sudanese border, the Grand Renaissance Dam is 1.8 kilometres long and 145 metres high.