Ethiopia PM defends dam: ‘We are tired of begging’
(bbc)—Ethiopia will push ahead with filling the Grand Renaissance Dam because the country needs to develop and provide electricity for its people, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said.
He told parliament that the country had already lost money because of delays. Construction began in 2011, and when it is full it will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant.
“We are tired of begging and the desire to develop does not mean we have intentions to harm other countries,” the Ethiopian News Agency quoted him as saying.
The dam was not intended to create any diplomatic rift, he said.
The speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam’s reservoir will affect the flow downstream for Sudan and Egypt.
Egypt does not want Ethiopia to fill the dam until an agreement is signed. The three nations are to resume talks on Tuesday.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 90% of its fresh water, views the project as an existential threat.
But Mr Abiy said some 50 million Ethiopians had no clean drinking water or electricity.
“Completing the project and utilising it is no different than fulfilling the basic rights like that of Egypt where 98% of people have electricity.”
In March, Ethiopia pulled out of US-mediated talks, accusing the US of overstepping the role of neutral observer.