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The dam’s building, seen right here in December 2019, started in 2011

Ethiopia has began filling the reservoir behind the disputed Grand Renaissance dam on the River Nile – a day after talks with Egypt and Sudan ended with out settlement, officers say.

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele confirmed the most recent satellite tv for pc photos exhibiting water ranges rising.

Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric challenge as essential for its financial progress.

But Egypt and Sudan, that are downstream, worry the massive dam will tremendously scale back their entry to water.

Years of fraught negotiations have failed to achieve a consensus on how and when to fill the reservoir, and the way a lot water it ought to launch.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has beforehand warned that filling and working the dam with out an settlement “that protects the downstream communities… would heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts that further destabilise an already troubled region”.

A battle between Egypt and Ethiopia, that are each US allies, would put tens of millions of civilians in danger.

What did the minister say?

On Wednesday, Mr Seleshi instructed Ethiopian state broadcaster EBC that the filling operation had begun “in line with the natural process”, including: “The construction of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand.”

His feedback come after satellite tv for pc photos taken between 27 June and 12 July present a gradual enhance within the quantity of water being held again by the dam.

The photos induced a wave of pleasure in Ethiopia over the $4bn (£3.2bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) challenge – however induced concern in Egypt.


A big reservoir is starting to kind behind the dam

12 July 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 12 July

26 June 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 26 June

When absolutely operational, the dam will develop into the most important hydro-electrical plant in Africa, offering energy to some 65 million Ethiopians, who presently lack a daily electrical energy provide. However, Egypt will get nearly all of its water from the Nile and fears the dam will scale back provides.

How will the dam be crammed?

The minister’s announcement would possibly give the impression that filling up the dam might be like filling up a shower – and Ethiopia can activate and off a faucet at will.

But the reality is that the wet season, which started in June and lasts till September, will fill the dam naturally.

Given the stage that the development 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 Gerd challenge since 2012, instructed the BBC.

From the beginning of the method in 2011, the dam has been constructed across the Blue Nile because it continued to stream by the large constructing web site.

The Gerd in construction


The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Africa’s greatest hydropower challenge

  • Construction startedon the Blue Nile in 2011

  • The $4bn pricehas been partly met by residents shopping for bonds

  • The energy generatedwill remodel the lives of tens of millions of Ethiopians

  • Egypt is frightenedbecause it nearly totally depends on the water from the Nile

  • It sits downstreamof the dam and needs a assured stream of water

  • Negotiationshave up to now failed to achieve a deal on some key points

Source: Reuters/BBC

Builders might work on the huge constructions on both facet of the river with none drawback. In the center, throughout the dry season, the river was diverted by culverts, or pipes, to permit that part to be constructed up.

The backside of the center part is now full and the river is presently flowing by bypass channels on the foot of the wall.

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As the influence of the wet season begins to be felt on the dam web site, the quantity of water that may cross by these channels will quickly be lower than the quantity of water getting into the realm, that means that it’ll again up additional and add to the lake that can sit behind the dam, Dr Wheeler mentioned.

The Ethiopian authorities can shut the gates on among the channels to extend the quantity of water being held again however this will not be vital, he added.

How lengthy will it take to fill?

In the primary yr, the Gerd will retain 4.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water, taking it as much as the height of the bottom level on the dam wall, permitting Ethiopia to check the primary set of generators. On common, the full annual stream of the Blue Nile is 49bcm.

In the dry season the lake will recede a bit, permitting for the dam wall to be constructed up and within the second yr an extra 13.5bcm might be retained.

By that point, the water degree ought to have reached the second set of generators, that means that the stream of water might be managed extra intentionally.

Explore the Nile with 360 video

a 360-degree version of the Damming the Nile VR series from BBC News

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Join Alastair Leithead and his workforce, travelling in 2018 from the Blue Nile’s supply to the ocean – by Ethiopia and Sudan into Egypt.

Ethiopia says it would take between 5 to seven years to replenish the dam to its most flood season capability of 74bcm. At that time, the lake that might be created might stretch again some 250km (155 miles) upstream.

Between every subsequent flood season the reservoir might be lowered to 49.3bcm.

Egypt, which nearly totally depends on the Nile for its water wants, is worried that in most years of the filling it isn’t assured a selected quantity of water.

And as soon as the filling stage is over, Ethiopia is reluctant to be tied to a determine of how a lot water to launch.

In years of regular or above common rainfall that shouldn’t be an issue, however Egypt is nervous about what would possibly occur throughout extended drought.

What is going on with the talks?

Negotiations over the mega dam have failed to achieve settlement after practically a decade of talks between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Sudan caught in between.

Last yr, Egypt sought the intervention of the US on the deadlock.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi requested that US President Donald Trump mediate the battle, which Ethiopia was initially reluctant to just accept.

The US and the World Bank bought concerned however did not get Ethiopia to enroll to a doc agreed with Egypt in February.

When the US then mentioned that the dam shouldn’t be accomplished with out an settlement, Ethiopia accused the superpower of overstepping its position as a impartial observer.

The African Union (AU) has now mentioned it would attempt to discover a resolution.

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