Ethiopia to start generating power from Renaissance Dam
Despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia decided to go on with its project, and it will start generating power from it just tomorrow.
Ethiopia will start generating power from its Renaissance Dam on the Nile river on Sunday, government officials said Saturday, marking Addis Ababa's latest move on the controversial project that sparked a crisis with its northern neighbor, Egypt.
The dam, set to be the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, has been at the center of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia started the project there in 2011.
"Tomorrow will be the first energy generation of the dam," an Ethiopian government official said on Saturday.
Egypt and Sudan, who are down the river's stream, view the project as a threat due to their dependence on the Nile for water, but Ethiopia argues that it is essential for its electrification and development.
Neither Cairo nor Khartoum responded to the government state, though they have been urging Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement on the dam's filling and operation ever since Addis Ababa first broke ground.
Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia have come to the negotiation table with the dam being the only item on the agenda several times, though there has been no sign of any breakthrough.
The project has caused Addis Ababa a hefty $4.2 billion, and it is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, which would increase Ethiopia's electricity output by more than two-fold.
"The newly generated electricity from the GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) could help revive an economy that has been devastated by the combined forces of a deadly war, rising fuel prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic," said Addisu Lashitew of the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Egypt depends on the Nile for about 97% of its irrigation and drinking water, while Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding, though it is concerned over its own dams getting harmed without an agreement on the Ethiopian dam's operation.
The process of filling the GERD's vast reservoir began in 2020, with Ethiopia announcing in July of that year it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters.
Its capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, and Addis Ababa's target was to add 13.5 billion in 2021.