Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (30 June 2022)

Since its construction began a decade ago in 2011, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a beacon of hope for its people. When completed, it will be the world’s tenth-largest dam and the largest hydro project on the continent, with 13 turbines and a capacity for storage of up to 74 billion cubic meters (BCM) and electricity generation of over 5000 megawatts (MW).

So far, it has cost the nation (the citizens being the primary financiers) more than ETB100 billion and is expected to cost a total of $5 billion by the end. The GERD has stored 4.5 and 13.9 billion cubic meters of water during its first and second filling phases, which occurred in July 2020 and 2021, respectively. With 18.5BCM in its reservoir and an 84 percent completion rate, the dam officially began delivering power from its first turbine (375MW) in February 2022.

Ethiopia contributes to over 86% of the Nile water, yet 60% of the people remain in the dark, with a per capita electricity consumption of a mere 65KW (less than the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 488KW) registered in 2013. The benefits Ethiopia will glean from this project are vast and numerous, from powering the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors, to boosting export earnings, reducing deforestation and CO2 emissions, and accelerating rural electrification. According to IEEE Spectrum, the GERD, along with the Gilgel Gibe III Dam (completed in 2015), will nearly quadruple Ethiopia’s electricity capacity, with the excess exported potentially earning the country $1 billion per year.

With the announcement of the dam’s third filling, scheduled for August 2022, came the familiar pattern of opposition from Egypt and Sudan, the two downstream countries. The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. issued a fact sheet in February 2021 debunking myths that overstate the dam’s potential damages, Ethiopia’s other sources of electricity, and Egypt’s water-use efficiency while simultaneously underplaying Ethiopia’s needs, transparency, flexibility, and legality.

As was the case a year ago, the two opposing countries may stand to benefit rather than lose from GERD construction. The GERD regulation of flow will increase energy generation in Sudan’s hydropower dams by more than 2,657 GW/year, in addition to lowering floods during rainy seasons and droughts during dry ones. This same regulation can prevent overtopping of Egypt’s High Aswan Dam, reduce evaporation losses, and allow for longer Nile River navigation.  

Despite these facts, the two countries remain poised, in one way or another, to oppose the operations of the GERD. Regardless of this and other challenges, Ethiopians remain hopeful as they wait to see the project finished in 2023.


The opinions expresses here in the post "A Retrospective Look at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's Journey as the Third Filling Phase Approaches" are those of the individua's contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Business Info Ethiopia , BIE Intelligence PLC, its publisher, editor, or any of its other contributors.


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