Countries agree to study reservoir filling for Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will set up a scientific study group to consult on the filling of the reservoir behind Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, according to the Associated Press. The team is expected to conclude the study within three months after its establishment, says Ethiopian News Agency.

This was the result of the 2nd Tripartite High Level Ministerial Meeting of Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that opened May 15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Participants were Egyptian Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Sudanese Acting Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry al-Dhikheri and Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry.

Africanews reported that the three countries agreed to establish the Tripartite Infrastructure Fund to deal with issues relating to GERD, among others. And the leaders will meet every six months.

The US$6.4 billion GERD hydro project has been under construction on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia since 2011 and is reportedly about two-thirds complete. However, downstream countries Sudan and Egypt are concerned that the rate at which Ethiopia proposes to fill the reservoir might cause water shortages. GERD is to feature the largest roller-compacted-concrete volume dam in the world at 10.2 million cubic meters, and the reservoir will have a capacity of 70 cubic kilometers.

This meeting is a follow-up to the results of the first tripartite meeting, which was held in Khartoum April 4 and ended without clear resolution. Additionally, the Tripartite National Committee met May 5 in Addis Ababa but was unable to make progress on the adoption of the draft incipient report of the consultant, which Egypt approved, where the completion of studies on determining the potential negative effects of the dam on the two downstream countries and how to avoid them was not approved.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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