Explainer: Why Ethiopia's Huge Dam Scares Its Neighbors

Egypt and Sudan have denounced Ethiopia's gigantic hydroelectric dam project as an existential threat.

    2020/07/30

NSFW    ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia is building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD. According to Al Jazeera, Africa's biggest dam is intended to create 12,000 jobs and turn Ethiopia into a regional powerhouse in energy exports.

Upon completion, GERD will measure 1,780 meters long and 145 meters high. The dam's primary aim is to generate electricity with its 16 turbines that will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, or four times Ethiopia's current energy capacity.

GERD's reservoir — which Ethiopia has already begun filling — has a capacity of 75 billion cubic meters, and the waters are overtopping the incomplete dam. This effectively gives Ethiopia control over 85 percent of the water that flows into the Nile.

The Blue Nile is a major tributary to the Nile, which Sudan and Egypt rely on for freshwater and sediments needed for agriculture. According to Al Jazeera, the two downstream nations have declared GERD poses an existential threat.

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