The Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) saw one of its 13 turbines started power generating on Sunday, February 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
“Today, Africa's largest power plant, the GERD’s first turbine began generating power. This is good news for our continent as well as the downstream countries with whom we aspire to work together,” Ahmed was quoted as saying by the ministry during a ceremony before the dam.
“From now on, there will be nothing that will stop Ethiopia,” AP quoted the Ethiopian premier as saying during Sunday’s event that was officiated by him.
The GERD’s project manager Kifle Horo said, according to AP, that the dam “just started generating power, but that doesn't mean the project is completed”.
“It will take from two and a half to three years to complete it [the GERD],” Horo said.
The Ethiopian News Agency said Sunday that, according to the information from the office of the GERD, the now-operating first turbine generates 375 megawatts, while the second turbine is also in preparation.
When the construction of the dam is complete, it will generate 5,250 megawatt of electricity, the news agency said.
It is estimated that Ethiopia will be able to earn up to $580 million a year by selling about 2 thousand megawatts to neighbouring countries from GERD, which is planned to be the largest electric power-generating dam in Africa, the agency noted.
The GERD has been at the centre of a regional dispute between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand, and Ethiopia, on the other.
Egypt and Sudan, who do not oppose the construction of the dam, have been negotiating with Ethiopia for 10 years now on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, but Addis Ababa has repeatedly refused to sign any such deal.
Egypt, which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs, fears that the unilateral and quick filling and operation of the GERD would have a negative impact on the country's water supply. Meanwhile, Sudan is concerned about regulating water flows to safeguard its own dams.
Ethiopia, which deems the multi-billion-dollar project essential for producing electricity and economic development, has repeatedly downplayed the concerns of Cairo and Khartoum.
Addis Ababa unilaterally completed the dam's first filling in 2020 and the second filling in 2021 in the absence of a legally binding deal with Cairo and Khartoum.
The latest rounds of African Union (AU)-sponsored talks in Kinshasa to resolve the decade-long dispute collapsed in April, with Egypt and Sudan have always blaming the failure of this and previous rounds of talks on Ethiopia's intransigence.