Cairo lodges its protest at UN Security Council, objecting to Addis Ababa's unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam without a binding deal with downstream countries including Sudan.

Egypt and Sudan fear the dam could threaten their access to vital Nile waters and have demanded a written pact between the three countries.
Egypt and Sudan fear the dam could threaten their access to vital Nile waters and have demanded a written pact between the three countries. (Reuters Archive)

Egypt has protested to the UN Security Council (UNSC) against the Ethiopian plan to fill the reservoir of a controversial Nile dam for a third year without agreement from downstream countries.

Egypt "received a message from the Ethiopian side on July 26, stating that Ethiopia would continue filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam during the current flood season," a Foreign Ministry statement said on Friday.

In response, Egypt wrote to the UNSC "to register its objection and complete rejection of Ethiopia's continuation of filling the Renaissance Dam unilaterally without a deal."

The ministry stressed that Egypt maintains its "legitimate right... to take all necessary measures to ensure and protect its national security, including against any risks that Ethiopia's unilateral measures may cause in the future."

The multi-billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile is set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa but has been at the centre of a dispute with Egypt and Sudan ever since work began in 2011.

READ MORE: Ethiopia completes filling of controversial Nile mega-dam for second year

Cairo, Khartoum seek accord

Addis Ababa deems the GERD essential for the electrification and development of Africa's second most populous country.

But Cairo and Khartoum fear it could threaten their access to vital Nile waters and have demanded a written agreement between the three countries on the dam's filling and operation.

The $4.2-billion dam is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia's output. The first of 13 turbines began generating power in February.

The process of filling the GERD's vast reservoir began in 2020, with Ethiopia announcing in July that year it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres.

The reservoir's total capacity is 74 billion cubic metres, and the target for 2021 was to add 13.5 billion, a target Ethiopia said it had met.

READ MORE: Ethiopia rejects call by Egypt and Sudan for UN action on Nile dam

Downstream countries Egypt and Sudan have been locked with tense dispute over the Nile Dam with Ethiopia since the beginning of its construction in 2011.
Downstream countries Egypt and Sudan have been locked with tense dispute over the Nile Dam with Ethiopia since the beginning of its construction in 2011. (TRTWorld)

US involvement 

The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, was in Ethiopia on Friday for talks that were expected to include the dispute over the dam. 

The envoy already held talks in Egypt on Monday.

"We are actively engaged in supporting a diplomatic way forward under the African Union's auspices that arrive at an agreement that provides for the long-term needs of every citizen along the Nile," he said.

READ MORE: Ethiopia to go on filling Nile dam after three-way talks collapse

Source: AFP