Ethiopia’s foreign minister has insisted that his country will start filling the $4.6bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on a tributary of the Nile next month whether Egypt agrees or not.
The minister, Gedu Andargachew, also accused Egypt of "warmongering" over the hydropower scheme on the Blue Nile.
"For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season," he said in an interview with The Associated Press (AP) on Friday, 19 June.
Tensions between the two countries have been rising since Ethiopia started work on the GERD in 2011, as it pits Ethiopia’s desire for development against Egypt’s fears over water security.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for nearly all its fresh water, objects to the speed of Ethiopia’s plans to fill the large reservoir.
"We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is," the foreign minister told AP. "If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen."
His comments came after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan failed once more to produce an agreement.Â
The minister said that no date had been set for more talks, and that he did see a need for heads of state to negotiate.
He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years.
"This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering," he said. "Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out."
Image: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a Russia-Africa Summit, October 2019 (The Kremlin/CC BY 4.0)Â