Ethiopia completes third filling of Blue Nile mega-dam reservoir | News

Prime Minister Abiy said as he filled the dam that the Nile was ‘a gift from God to us for Ethiopians to take advantage of’.

Ethiopia has completed the third filling of a large dam reservoir on the Blue Nile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced, a development that could further increase tensions with its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan.

Friday’s announcement comes a day after Ethiopia said it has kicked off its second turbine power generation in Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Today as you can see behind my back, the third fill is complete,” Abiy said in state television images from the dam site.

“Compared to last year, we have reached 600 meters (1,968 feet), which is 25 meters (82 feet) higher than the previous fill,” he said.

“The Nile is a gift from God to us for Ethiopians to take advantage of,” he added.

The massive $4.2 billion dam has been at the center of a regional dispute since Ethiopia broke ground on a major project in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan see the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile water, while Ethiopia considers the dam essential for development and electrification in the country.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, last month protested Ethiopia’s third dam-filling plan to the United Nations Security Council.

Addis Ababa thinks the dam is essential when it says it will allow for the distribution of electricity to its population of more than 110 million people. The Renaissance Dam is also at the heart of Ethiopia’s push to become Africa’s largest electricity exporter, with a projected capacity of 6,500 megawatts.

Ethiopia first started generating electricity from GERD in February. Currently, two turbines, out of a total of 13, are capable of generating 750 megawatts of electricity.

Nile River water

The Nile – about 6,000km (3,700 miles) long and one of the longest rivers in the world – is a vital source of water and electricity for dozens of countries in East Africa.

The Nile Basin system flows through 11 countries. The Blue Nile and White Nile merge in Sudan before flowing into Egypt and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warning Ethiopia earlier last year that his government would not tolerate any move to reduce Egypt’s proportion of water from the Nile.

Sudan hopes the project will moderate annual floods but fears its dams will be damaged without an agreement on the operation of the Ethiopian dam.

145 meters (475 feet) tall GERD is located in the middle of the Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, western Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan.

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