Egypt-Ethiopia tensions over new dam rise again

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Vall has visited the site of the $5bn project, which will one day be Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam.

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    Ethiopia is pushing on with construction of its massive new dam, despite growing objections from Egypt.

    The controversial project has strained relations between the two nations, because Egypt, which lies downstream, sees it as a risk to its water supply from the Blue Nile.

    Egypt has long held the majority rights to the Nile and relies almost entirely on the river for its water needs. 

    "Construction has never stopped, and will never stop, until the project is completed [...] We are not concerned by what Egypt thinks - Ethiopia is committed to benefitting from its water resources without causing harm to anyone," Ethiopia's Minister of Irrigation, Water and Electricty, Seleshi Bekele, said. 

    Once completed, The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant and will help solve a national energy crisis in Ethiopia.

    As rhetoric over the project heightens, sources have told Al Jazeera that there is maximum security around the dam, with an undeclared no-fly zone and anti-aircraft defenses. 

    There have also been rumors on social media in Ethiopia about possible air strikes by Egypt aiming to destroy the 1.7 kilometre dam.

    More than 60 percent of the dam's construction has already been completed, according to engineers on the site. 

    The final capacity of the dam will exceed 6,000 megawatts, which will allow Ethiopia not only to satisy domestic power needs, but will also allow it to become a major exporter of electricity to regions as far away as South Africa and Western Europe. 

    Al Jazeera's Mohammed Vall has visited the site of the $5bn project, which will one day be Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam.


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