Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has officially inaugurated electricity production from the country’s mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday, a milestone in the controversial multi-billion dollar project.
High-ranking Ethiopian government officials said a giant hydroelectric dam built on a Nile River tributary has started generating power.
Abiy, accompanied by officials, toured the power generation station and pressed a series of buttons on an electronic screen, a move that officials said initiated production.
“This great dam was built by Ethiopians but not only for Ethiopians, rather for all our African brothers and sisters to benefit from,” an official at the launch ceremony said.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa but has been at the centre of a regional controversy ever since since Ethiopia commenced work in 2011.
Ethiopia’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan see the Mega-dam as a threat to its water governance because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Addis Ababa deems it essential for its electrification and development.
The $4.2-billion project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia’s electricity output.
State media reported that the dam, located in western Ethiopia not far from Sudan border, had started generating 375 megawatts of electricity from one of its turbines on Sunday.
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