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Ethiopian Prime Minister launches electricity production from the Renaissance Dam

Abi Ahmed, accompanied by high-ranking officials, toured the power plant and pressed a set of buttons on an electronic screen, a move officials said launched the production process, AFP reported.

On Saturday, Agence France-Presse quoted an Ethiopian government official as saying: “On Sunday, the first operation of generating electricity from the dam will begin,” and another official confirmed this information.

The dam, which is expected to be Africa’s largest project to generate electricity from water, has sparked a regional row since Ethiopia launched the project in 2011.

The downstream countries, Ethiopia’s neighbors, Egypt and Sudan, fear the dam’s repercussions on their water security, while Addis Ababa stresses its importance for electricity generation and development.

There has been no comment yet from Cairo or Khartoum, which are demanding Ethiopia to sign a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the dam, since its construction began.

The three governments held several rounds of talks that so far have not led to any indication of a breakthrough.

The $4.2 billion project aims to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than twice the electricity produced by Ethiopia.

The Renaissance Dam is located on the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gemuz region, about 30 km from the border with Sudan. It is 1.8 km long and 145 meters high.

The Blue Nile, which originates in Ethiopia, meets the White Nile in Khartoum to form the Nile River, which crosses Sudan and Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean.

For Egypt, which relies on the Nile River to provide about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water needs, the dam poses a threat to its water security.

For his part, Sudan hopes that the project will contribute to controlling annual floods, but it fears that its dams will be damaged in the absence of an agreement on the operation of the dam.

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