ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

Ethiopia will start filling its $5 billion hydroelectric dam on the Nile in two weeks, the government said on Saturday.

The announcement came after an online summit of the leaders of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt convened by the African Union (AU) for negotiations on guidelines for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

A statement by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said the three countries have agreed to continue the dialogue and reach a deal within the next two weeks.

“Ethiopia is scheduled to begin filling the GERD within the next two weeks, during which the remaining construction work will continue. It is in this period that the three countries have agreed to reach a final agreement on a few pending matters,” read the statement.

“The meeting also resolved to notify the United Nations Security Council that the Africa Union is seized of the matter.”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the AU, presided over the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the Bureau of the AU Assembly, comprising Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also participated in the discussions.

All officials urged Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt “to cease unnecessary media escalation.”

Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011 on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile River, near the border with Sudan.

The construction of the 147-meter high and 1.8-kilometer long project is expected to finish by 2023.

With a reservoir capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, the hydroelectric dam will produce 6,475 megawatts for Ethiopia’s domestic and industrial use, as well as for export to neighboring countries.

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