NAIROBI, Kenya – Ethiopia has started generating electricity from a controversial mega-dam being built on the Blue Nile.
The milestone was reached on Sunday morning when one of the 13 turbine dams of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance began generating electricity at an event hosted by Prime Minister Abi Ahmed.
“From now on, there will be nothing to stop Ethiopia,” Abi said.
The dam will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa after its completion.
“We have just started generating electricity, but that doesn’t mean the project is complete,” said Kifle Hora, the dam’s project manager. “It will take two and a half to three years to complete.”
The dam, which will have a total electricity generation capacity of 6,500 megawatts, has become a source of tension between Ethiopia and other coastal states, Sudan and Egypt. Ethiopia has already completed two fillings of the dam, but the rate at which it will be filled and the amount of water that will be released during the drought seasons remain unclear.
Egypt fears that the rapid filling of the dam will reduce its share in the waters of the Nile and is seeking a legal agreement in the event of a dispute.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a brief statement on Sunday that Ethiopia’s move was another “violation” of an agreement in principle signed by the three countries in 2015. It is not specified.
Obi, however, said the dam would benefit Egypt and Sudan.
“We want to export our clean electricity to Europe via Sudan and Egypt, so the way forward is cooperation between us. Ethiopia does not want and does not intend to harm anyone else, ”he said.
Ethiopia claims that $ 4.2 billion worth of platinum is important for its development and will allow it to distribute electricity to a population of more than 110 million people.
Several rounds of talks were held in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Construction of the dam began in 2011, and the completion date was missed several years ago due to waste of funds and shortcomings of the project.