Ethiopia Bans Flight Over Controversial Dam

FILE PHOTO: Water flows through Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

The director-general of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, Wesenyeleh Hunegnaw, says the horn of Africa country has banned all flights over its giant new hydropower dam for security reasons.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is on the Blue Nile. The structure is about 15 km (9 miles) from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile – a tributary of the Nile river.

The country is in a running dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the $4bn dam, with the Egyptian government stressing it would threaten its main supply of water.

About 90 per cent of Egypt’s 100 million people depend on the Nile for their fresh water

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Last week, air force chief Major General Yilma Merdasa told local media that Ethiopia was fully prepared to defend the dam from any attack.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan failed to strike a deal on the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July.

The dam is at the centre of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s minister of irrigation, Yasser Abas, had last month said the dam would protect the country from future floods.

He added that the current flooding was the most severe in the last century, calling on the international community to help Sudan.

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