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Ethiopia to start generating power from Nile dam

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Ethiopia will start generating power from its mega-dam on the Blue Nile today, government officials told AFP, a major milestone for the contro-versial project.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa, has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground there in 2011.

“Tomorrow will be the first energy generation of the dam,” an Ethiopian government official said yesterday.

A second official confirmed the information. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the development has not been officially announced.

Ethiopia’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Addis Ababa deems it essential for its electrification and development.

There was no immediate response from Cairo or Khartoum, which have been pressing Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam ever since work first started.

The three governments have held multiple rounds of talks. But so far there has been no sign of any breakthrough.

The USD4.2-billion project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia’s electricity output.