Ethiopia on Sunday began producing electricity from its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
GERD is a multi-billion-dollar hydropower plant on the River Nile that neighbours Sudan and Egypt depend on and said will cause water shortages downstream.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government said the project is key to Ethiopia’s economic development, assuring them that Ethiopia did not wish to harm their interests.
“Ethiopia’s main interest is to bring light to 60% of the population who is suffering in darkness, to save the labour of our mothers who are carrying wood on their backs in order to get energy,” Abiy said.
According to the World Bank, Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country has the second biggest electricity deficit on the continent with about two thirds of the population of around 110 million lacking a connection to the grid.
The $5 billion project when completed is expected to become Africa’s biggest hydropower plant with a generating capacity of 5,150 MW of electricity, some of which will be exported to neighbouring nations, the government said.