The Power of Water

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Ethiopia completed the filling of its hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile River this week, a move that could stir up tensions with its neighbors amid a years-long dispute over the controversial megaproject, Sky News reported.

On Sunday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), saying that the project had faced “internal and external obstacles,” but “we endured all that.”

Construction of the $4 billion project began in 2011 and the dam is considered integral to Ethiopia’s economic development.

It is expected to generate more than 6,000 megawatts of power, with officials hoping that the GERD will turn Ethiopia into Africa’s biggest power exporter.

But Egypt and Sudan have complained that the megaproject threatens their vital water supplies from the Nile.

Following Abiy’s announcement, Egyptian authorities criticized the move and accused Ethiopia of not taking into account the interest of downstream countries, the BBC wrote. Sudan did not comment on the dam’s filling.

The three African countries have been engaged in protracted negotiations to resolve the dispute over the infrastructure project for more than a decade.

In 2013, Egyptian politicians were recorded discussing potential military action against the GERD, warning that the dam threatened Egypt’s existence.

Ethiopia has denied accusations that the dam will cut its neighbors’ share of the Nile River.

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