Ethiopia’s Deputy PM Says Renaissance Dam at Critical Phase

ADDIS ABABA – Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen has visited the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam construction project’s current status on Sunday as the schedule to fill its reservoir close in on.

Project managers scheduled July to start filling the mega-dam despite warnings from Egypt that such a move could destabilize the region. The hydroelectric dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Addis Ababa says the dam, which is 74 percent complete, is crucial for its economy as well as its sixty million citizens who currently don’t have access to electricity.

Senior government officials led by Deputy Prime Minister visited the construction site, where Demeke urged for worker’s persistence effort that would allow the start of filling the 74 billion cubic meter reservoir behind the dam go ahead as planned.

Cutting trees and bushes found on 1,000 hectares of land where the water lies is expected to start next week.

After a lot of ups and downs, the project has reached a crucial phase with the contribution of the public as well as government’s oversight, Demeke said.

In the remaining construction phases, he advised the workforces should protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out “their historical responsibilities” with success.

Ethiopia, which has populations of about 100 million, sees the future of the Nile and the dam as a matter of national security.

The Dam sits on the Blue Nile and will generate about 6,000 megawatts once completed. The foreign-exchange-starved horn-of-Africa nation plans to export electricity to neighboring states.