2nd turbine turned on at Ethiopia's Nile dam

$5B Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam remains cause of dispute with lower Nile countries Egypt, Sudan

Addis Getachew  | 11.08.2022 - Update : 11.08.2022
2nd turbine turned on at Ethiopia's Nile dam


Ethiopia on Thursday switched on the second turbine of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a $5 billion hydroelectric power plant.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed switched the turbine at the dam, Africa's largest to date, built about 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile River.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been under construction since 2011 to generate about to 6,000 megawatts of electricity per year when all 13 turbines are in operation, according to the Ethiopian government.

Since its inception, it has been a point of controversy between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Cairo expressing concern that its "historical share" of the Nile's waters would be reduced, while Ethiopia says the project is necessary for its national development.

Standing 145 meters (over 475 feet) tall and 1,800 meters long, it is capable of holding 70 billion cubic meters (more than 2.4 trillion cubic feet) of water in its reservoir.

The dam "is a project for the realization of which Ethiopians have invested in sweat, money, and time, with some paying the ultimate sacrifice in their line of duty," Abiy said at the event.

Meanwhile, trilateral talks on the dam between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt remain stalled.

Egypt and Sudan, both downstream nations, have demanded Ethiopia sign a "binding and comprehensive" agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, a demand resisted by Addis Ababa. Cairo views the structure as an existential threat to its share of Nile water, its only source of freshwater.

Ethiopia bases its decision to continue filling the reservoir on the 2015 declaration it signed with Khartoum and Cairo, under which Addis Ababa reserves the right to carry on construction works while talks are ongoing.

Years of negotiations between the three countries have failed to secure a breakthrough.

Last year, the UN Security Council called on all three nations to resume African Union-led talks on the matter "within a reasonable time frame."

Ethiopia this month launched a third stage of filling the dam, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan.

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