Ethiopia started power generation at the second turbine of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), increasing its power output from the mega dam to 540 MW.
In a live televised event Thursday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the operation of the second turbine at the dam, which is under construction on the Blue Nile River in the country’s Benishangul-Gumuz region, about 45 km east of the border with Sudan.
“We are generating power to support our economy and help millions of citizens get light,” said the prime minister, stressing that his country does not have any intention to harm the downstream Nile River countries of Sudan and Egypt.
The East African country inaugurated the first turbine at the dam in February. Combined, the two turbines will produce a total of 540 MW of electricity, according to government figures.
The prime minister said works have been finalized to carry on the third filling of the dam with 22 billion cubic meters of water amid opposition from Sudan and Egypt.
Ethiopia considers the huge project a big boost to its economic development aspirations. The Ethiopian government argued that adding water to the reservoir, especially during the rainy season in July and August, is a natural part of the construction.
“We are filling the dam for an extended period of time to avoid a decrease in the volume of water flowing to the downstream countries,” said the prime minister, while calling for negotiation with Sudan and Egypt to reach a consensus.
The Ethiopian government reiterated that the primary purpose of GERD is electricity production to relieve the country’s acute energy shortage while also for electricity export to neighboring countries.
The GERD project, which has reached about 84 percent completion and with a planned installed capacity of 5,150 MW, is expected to be completed in the coming two and half years, according to Kifle Horo, GERD’s project manager. Enditem