February 2, 2023

Ethiopia plans to finish GERD Blue Nile river dam construction in 2023

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed © Donat Sorokin/TASS Host Photo Agency

Ethiopia is planning to conclude construction on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River by the end of 2023.

88 percent of the construction work on the project is already done, according to Ethiopian ambassador to Russia Alemayehu Tegenu via Egypt Independent.

Construction on the project first began over a decade ago in 2011 and has since been a source of disagreement between Ethiopia and nearby nations Egypt and Sudan.

The project is meant to help supply power to millions of Ethiopians. However, both Egypt and Sudan have concerns that the dam will hinder the flow of water into the Nile, upon which they are heavily dependent.

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing one of its most severe droughts in recent history. The UN’s World Food Program warns that the number of people facing hunger due to drought in the Horn of Africa could rise from 14 million to 20 million by the end of the year.

The dam is also meant to help Ethiopia on its path toward self-sufficiency in wheat production. The ongoing drought has crippled domestic wheat production while the effects of the war in Ukraine and the covid-19 pandemic have damaged the global market.

According to data from the United Nations, Global wheat prices averaged $6.93 per bushel throughout 2021. However, they reached $11.58 per bushel in late May 2022. This is an increase of about 67 percent.

This summer, Ethiopia plans to fill the dam for a third time.

Ambassador Seleshi Bekele met with United States Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer a week ago and according to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, “Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the US, Dr. Sileshi Bekele highlighted Ethiopia’s interest to resume the AU-led trilateral negotiation over the GERD.”

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