Below is the Grand Renaissance Dam Project timeline and all you need to know about the project from beginning to the present date. The construction project has created as much controversy as it has anticipation given the impact it will have on the region. On the one hand there is the control it will give Ethiopia over the Nile waters to the chagrin of Egypt and the benefit it will bring to neighbouring countries in terms of control of perennial flood waters and power generation
Ethiopia announced plans to build the dam on the Blue Nile River with the potential to supply over 5000MW of electricity which would make it the largest hydro power project on the continent.
Shortly thereafter Egypt protested citing a pre-colonial agreement that gave Egypt exclusive control over the use of the Nile waters upstream.
The Ethiopian government signed a contract with Salini Impreglio S.p.A to build the Grand Renaissance Dam Project at a cost of US$4.8 billion and the then Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi laid a foundation stone effectively commencing construction works.
That year a tripartite committee met for the first time over the GERD project and its effect on the three countries Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt visited Ethiopia with hopes of making Ethiopia appreciate Egypt’s concerns
Ethiopia diverts the Nile waters in order to begin construction of the actual dam wall. President Morsi’s regime is overthrown in Egypt and talks stall for a while before resuming
In 2014 real progress appears to be made when Egypt under President El-Sisi agreed that Ethiopia can develop the Grand Renaissance Dam Project with certain conditions. This agreement was drawn up under the Malabo Declaration
Several committees, experts and consultants are commissioned to help study, provide recommendations and stave off any future disputes. By this time the dam is 32 percent complete.
An agreement is signed between the three countries called the Declaration of Principles.
Despite this disagreement simmers between Egypt and Ethiopia over the technical studies being done
Finally, the three countries sign technical studies on the impact of the dam downstream. A disagreement, however, arises over Egypt’s proposal for more holes in the Dam
Failure to reach agreement on the agreement on a report from the technical studies persists
2018 – Sisi and Abiy Ahmed agree on resuming cooperation efforts
Ethiopia rejected Egypt’s proposal to involve the World Bank as a technical party with an impartial view to decide on the differences in the work of the Tripartite National Committee.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced that an agreement has been reached during the tripartite summit on ending the technical studies of the Grand Renaissance Dam within a month, and further emphasized Egypt’s commitment to the Declaration of Principles.
President El-Sisi said he agreed with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed to enhance confidence and cooperation between the two countries, and that the two countries would work on a final agreement on the GERD issue that would ensure development and prosperity to the Ethiopian people and at the same time upholding Egypt’s water needs and rights.
2019 – Negotiations stumble and resume, Egypt and Ethiopia’s leaders address the issue at the 74th UNGA
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Shoukri called for negotiations on the Dam to pick up pace and further demanded that the agreements reached between the three involved countries be respected.
After months of suspension, Egypt’s request for a new round of negotiations between the 3 countries on the filling of the GERD reservoir and its rules of operation is granted and the negotiations are launched in Cairo.
However, the negotiations failed after Ethiopia rejected Egypt’s proposal, saying that it infringes on its sovereignty.
On the 24th of September, Egypt President Sisi and his Ethiopian counterpart Sahle-Work Zewde addressed the GERD issue at the UNGA’s 74th session. President El-Sisi called for international intervention in the negotiations, and insisted that “Nile water is a matter of life and an issue of existence for Egypt”. On his part, President Zewde made assuarences of Ethiopia’s commitment to reaching a deal over GERD.
A tripartite technical committee finalized a four-day talks in Khartoum, Sudan and presented their final report on the outcomes to the three countries’ irrigation ministers. Soon after, a new round of meetings between the irrigation and water resources ministers kicked off in Khartoum.
The spokesperson of the ministries’ negotiations revealed that negotiations have reached a dead end due to the “intransigency” of the Ethiopian side. The United States then called on the three sides to “put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement that preserves those rights, while simultaneously respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”
2020 – Conflict moves to African Union
In July, the conflict over the commencement of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) moved to the African Union (AU) for resolution after Ethiopia strongly opposed arbitration by the United Nations Security Council during a video conference on June 29.
Egypt took the matter to the UN Security Council, but Ethiopia with the support of South Africa (the African Union chair) lobbied for the issue to be first handled by the continental body.
During the same month the Chairperson of the African Union and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the resumption of trilateral talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the controversial Grand Renaissance Dam Project and appealed to the involved parties to find solutions and reach an amicable agreement.
Ethiopia acknowledges the water levels behind the giant dam are increasing and filling has begun, though according to Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water minister, the GERD water filling is in line with the dam’s natural construction process. He further added that the inflow into the reservoir due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling. This continues until overflow is triggered soon.
Ethiopia’s office of the Prime Minster announces that the first round of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is completed, and hinted that it will start generating electricity in a few months.
In August, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia concluded a new round of talks without reaching consensus on a draft deal to be presented to the African Union (AU) regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
According to Sudan’s Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry, the three countries agreed to conclude the current round of talks without consensus on the draft integrated deal which was supposed to be submitted to the AU on Friday. “Continuation of the talks in their current form will not lead to achieving practical results,” said Yasir Abbas.
Elsewhere, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved a plan to halt U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia as the US government attempts to mediate a dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the construction GERD.
The decision could affect up to nearly US $130m in U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia and fuel new tensions in the relationship between Washington and Addis Ababa as Ethiopia carries out plans to fill the dam.
In October, Ethiopia’s minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Dr. Seleshi Bekele, announced that Ethiopia is set to start generating electricity from the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) over the coming 12 months. According to the minister, Performance of the project increased by 2.5% to 76.35% in the first quarter owing to efforts made to enable the dam to start generating power with two turbines this Ethiopian fiscal year (2020/21). The minister added that construction works at the dam are now 76.35%. Ethiopian authorities recently banned all flights over the GERD “for security reasons”.
In Early November, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia resumed talks. The week-long negotiations held via videoconference included: water ministers from the three countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, the European Union and the World Bank.