Ethiopia’s disputed Grand Renaissance dam on the River Nile has started filling with water – a day after talks with Egypt and Sudan ended without agreement
Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric project as crucial for its economic growth.
But Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream, fear the large dam will greatly reduce their access to water.
Years of fraught negotiations have failed to reach a consensus on how and when to fill the reservoir, and how much water it should release.
The reservoir will fill naturally during Ethiopia’s rainy season that began in June and lasts until September.
When fully operational, the dam will become the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, providing power to some 65 million Ethiopians, who currently lack a regular electricity supply. However, Egypt gets almost all of its water from the Nile and fears the dam will reduce supplies.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has previously warned that filling and operating the dam without an agreement “that protects the downstream communities… would heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts that further destabilise an already troubled region”.
A conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia, which are both US allies, would put millions of civilians at risk.