Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday officially started power generation at the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, a controversial multi-billion dollar project, according to an AFP correspondent present at the scene.
Abiy Ahmed, along with several senior officials, visited the power plant and clicked several switches on the electronic screen to speed up production, officials said.
“This great dam was built by Ethiopians, but for the benefit of all Africans, so that all our African brothers and sisters can benefit from it,” said a senior official who attended the inauguration.
Since the project’s launch in 2011, the GERD (“Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam”) has been in dispute with Sudan and Egypt, both of which depend on the Nile for their hydraulic resources.
Cairo calls for a “historic right” over the river, which has been guaranteed since a treaty signed in 1929 between Egypt and Sudan, represented by the United Kingdom, a colonial power. Egypt had gained veto power over the construction of projects on the river.
In 1959, following an agreement on water sharing with Khartoum, Egypt allocated a quota of 66% of the annual flow of the Nile, against 22% for Sudan.
Not being a party to these agreements, Ethiopia never considered itself bound by them and, in 2010, despite protests from Egypt and Sudan, a new treaty signed by the countries of the Nile Basin gave Egypt the right of veto. and terminated the authorized projects. Irrigation and hydroelectric dams.
Seized last summer, the United Nations recommended the three countries to continue negotiations under the auspices of the African Union (AU). Cairo and Khartoum, concerned about their water supply, asked Addis Ababa to stop filling the dam.
Ethiopia nonetheless proceeded to the second phase of filling the dam last July, with an initial production target of 6,500 MW announced as one of the largest in Africa, estimated at $4.2 billion ($3.7 billion). The total cost was revised up to 5,000 MW. euro).
The Great Renaissance Dam, located on the Blue Nile, about thirty kilometers from the Sudanese border, is 1.8 kilometers long and 145 meters high.
According to Ethiopian state media, the initial output of GERD is about 375 MW and the first turbine has been commissioned.
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