Ethiopia has completed the third phase of filling the reservoir for its huge dam on the Blue Nile river, the government said on Friday, a process that continues to irk the country’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.
Addis Ababa says the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a $4 billion hydropower project, is crucial to powering its economic development, but Egypt and Sudan consider it a serious threat to their vital water supplies.
Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. Currently, the two turbines, out of a total of 13 at the dam, are generating 750 megawatts of electricity.
The GERD is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current output.
The process of filling the GERD’s vast reservoir, which has a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, began in 2020.
The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, discussed the project during visits to both Ethiopia and Egypt last month, saying Washington was “actively engaged” in supporting efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the dispute.
The 145-metre (475-foot) high structure straddles the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan.