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Ethiopia launches power generation from Nile dam

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed officially launched power generation at the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday, a controversial multi-billion dollar project, according to an AFP correspondent on the spot.

Accompanied by numerous senior officials, Abiy Ahmed toured the power plant and clicked a series of switches on an electronic screen to trigger production, officials said.

“This great dam was built by the Ethiopians, but for the benefit of all Africans, so that all our African brothers and sisters can benefit from it,” said a senior official attending the inauguration.

Since the launch of the project 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 invokes a “historic right” on the river, guaranteed since a treaty signed in 1929 between Egypt and Sudan, then represented by the United Kingdom, a colonial power. Egypt had obtained a right of veto on the construction of projects on the river.

In 1959, after an agreement with Khartoum on water sharing, Egypt had 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, a new treaty signed by the countries of the Nile basin, despite the opposition of Egypt and Sudan , abolished the Egyptian right of veto and authorized projects for irrigation and hydroelectric dams.

Seized last summer, the UN had recommended to the three countries to continue their talks under the aegis of the African Union (AU). Cairo and Khartoum, worried about their water supply, had asked Addis Ababa to stop filling the dam.

Ethiopia had nevertheless proceeded last July to the second phase of filling the dam, announced as one of the largest in Africa with an initial production target of 6,500 megawatts, revised downwards to 5,000 MW, for an estimated total cost to 4.2 billion dollars (3.7 billion euros).

Located on the Blue Nile, about thirty kilometers from the Sudanese border, the Great Renaissance Dam is 1.8 kilometers long and 145 meters high.

According to Ethiopian state media, the initial production of the Gerd is around 375 MW with the commissioning of a first turbine.

zimonewszimonews Trans

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