The World Bank estimates that more than 60% of the Ethiopian population is still without electricity. This is more than 110 million people living in the dark. To reduce this electricity gap, the Ethiopian government initiated the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011. Today, the project is complete and the commissioning took place yesterday, February 20.
“Ethiopia’s main interest is to bring light to 60% of the population suffering in darkness, to save the labor of our mothers who are carrying wood on their backs to get energy,” said PM Abiy Ahmed who presided over the ceremony.
Valued at more than $4 billion, GERD has the potential to produce 5,000 MW, double the current national production. Ethiopia even plans to sell part of the dam output to neighboring countries. As a reminder, Sudan and Egypt have strongly opposed the project, which they believe would threaten their water supply, since GERD is built on the Nile, which is shared by these three countries, among others. Since its construction started, the dam has been at the heart of diplomatic tensions that even the intervention of the UN Security Council has not been able to calm.
The GERD project will increase the contribution of hydropower to Ethiopia’s energy mix, currently estimated at 90%, confirming Ethiopia’s status as the leading African producer of electricity from renewable sources.