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Ethiopia says it has completed the third filling of the mega dam reservoir – AFR

Ethiopia has completed the third fill of its mega-dam on the Blue Nile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Friday, a development that could fuel further tensions with downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan.

The announcement comes a day after Ethiopia said it had started power production from the second turbine at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the west of the country.

“As you can see behind me today, the third fill is complete,” Abiy said in pictures shown on state television of the dam construction site.

“Compared to last year, we got 600 meters, which is 25 meters higher than the previous fill,” he said.

“The Nile is a gift from God that the Ethiopians gave us to use.”

The massive $4.2 billion dam, which is set to be the largest hydropower project in Africa, has been at the center of a regional dispute since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

There is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan on GERD operations, despite talks held under the auspices of the African Union.

Cairo and Khartoum consider it a threat due to their dependence on Nile water, while Ethiopia considers it essential for the electrification and development of Africa’s second most populous country.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, protested the third replenishment at the UN Security Council last month.

The filling process of the GERD’s huge reservoir with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters started in 2020.

On Thursday, Abiy tried to reassure the two countries about the impact of the dam and called for negotiations to reach an agreement.

“Any other option will not stop what we have started and will be pointless,” he said, insisting the third fill did not cause water shortages downstream.

Ethiopia first started generating electricity from the GERD in February. The two of a total of 13 turbines currently have a capacity to generate 750 megawatts of electricity.

Ultimately, it is expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia’s current output.

Project manager Kifle Horo said Thursday that the dam is more than 83 percent complete overall and that the goal is to complete it in the next two and a half years.

The 145-meter (475-foot) structure spans the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan.

The project was initiated under former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Tigrayan leader who ruled Ethiopia for more than two decades until his death in 2012.

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