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Ethiopian Renaissance Dam gears up for testing as Egypt renews calls for talks

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Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is expected to start partial test power generation soon, seven years after construction started, an official has said.

Bizuneh Tolcha from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) also disclosed that the project is 66 per cent complete.

The Renaissance Dam, Mr Tolcha said, is part of a wider plan by Ethiopian government that will see the country’s power generation capacity increase from the current 4,280 MW to 17,300 MW by 2020.

The dam is being built on Blue Nile river 40 km from Sudanese border at cost of US$4.7 billion.

The announcement on the progress of the dam comes even as Egypt calls for an acceleration of talks on the dam over fears that the dam will affect water flow to the country

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry complained to a news conference yesterday that talks have been frozen for three years.

“There’s a need to accelerate the pace of negotiations after some three years or more have passed since the signing of the preliminary agreement in Khartoum and things have remained frozen,” he said, reports Reuters.

An Egyptian archaeologist Abdel Aziz Salem has also said that the dam would have grave consequences on the UNESCO-registered natural and cultural sites in the Nile Basin.

“Construction of the dam is not simply a political and economic issue but a cultural one,” Mr Aziz says in his report.

Mr Abdel Aziz Salem is a professor at Cairo University whose report is a culmination of a five year research on the impact of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

He will present the report at an international conference on sustainable development in Africa scheduled for May 7-9 at Cairo University’s Institute of African Research and Studies.

Egypt insists that construction of the dam threatens its annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile River water if construction of the dam goes on to completion.

However, Ethiopia maintains that the Grand Renaissance Dam’s construction will not reduce Egypt’s share of the river. It insists the dam is needed for development saying it will continue with its construction.

Read:Egypt seeks to revive talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

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