Ethiopia announced on Sunday that it had completed the filling of the Great Renaissance Dam it built on the Nile, rekindling tensions with Egypt, which condemned a "unilateral" and "illegal" operation.
Sudan, another country located downstream from this megadam presented as the largest in Africa, did not react on Sunday evening.
In recent years, Khartoum and Cairo, who see the dam as a threat to their water supplies, have repeatedly asked Ethiopia to stop filling the reservoir of the Grand Renaissance Dam (Gerd), pending a tripartite agreement on its operating methods.
Negotiations between the three countries, interrupted since April 2021, resumed on August 27.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce that the fourth and final filling (of water) of the Renaissance Dam has been successfully completed,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday in a message posted on the network social X (formerly Twitter).
"There were a lot of challenges, we were often pushed to back down. We had an internal challenge and external pressures. We reached (this stage) by facing with God," he added .
“I believe we will complete what we have planned,” said the Ethiopian leader.
The Prime Minister's Office later posted several photos showing Abiy Ahmed at the dam site with a message in English: "Our national perseverance against all odds has paid off!"
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced this operation.
The “filling of the Renaissance Dam reservoir without agreement with the two downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan) is (...) illegal”, and “will weigh” on negotiations between the three countries, he said in a press release.
With this mega hydroelectric dam (1.8 km long, 145 meters high) capable of eventually generating more than 5,000 megawatts, Ethiopia intends to double its electricity production, of which only about half of its approximately 120 million d residents currently have access.
Deemed vital by Addis Ababa, the Gerd, which cost around 3.5 billion euros, has been at the heart of a regional conflict since Ethiopia began its construction in 2011.
Long deadlocked, talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed in Cairo on August 27, with the aim of reaching an agreement "taking into account the interests and concerns of the three countries", it said. the Egyptian Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
A few weeks earlier, in mid-July, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Abiy Ahmed had given themselves four months to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, during a meeting on the sidelines of a summit of African leaders on the war in Sudan.
Egypt views this mega dam as an existential threat, as it depends on the Nile for 97% of its water needs.
Khartoum's position has varied in recent years.
After several months of common front with Egypt in 2022, the Sudanese leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, said last January that he "agreed on all points" with Abiy Ahmed about the Gerd.
But Sudan has been ravaged by a deadly conflict since mid-April.
Ethiopia, for its part, assures that its megadam, located in the northwest of the country about thirty kilometers from the border with Sudan, will not disrupt the flow of the river.
10/09/2023 20:26:26 - Nairobi (AFP) - © 2023 AFP