Ethiopia PM says the country 'is tired of begging' as dam talks resume with Egypt and Sudan

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

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.

Planned as Africa's largest hydroelectric installation, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, it has caused tension with Egypt ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

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,"Ahmed is reported to have said.

Why is the dam so contentious?

At the centre of the dispute are plans to fill up the mega dam.However, Egypt fears the project will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa's longest river.

Hydroelectric power stations do not consume water, but the speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam's reservoir will affect the flow downstream.

Following nine years of stalled negotiations, the United States and the World Bank sponsored talks from November 2019 aimed at reaching an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 90% of its fresh water, views the project as an existential threat. But, Ahmed said more than 50 million Ethiopians had no clean drinking water or electricity.

Egypt does not want Ethiopia to fill the dam until an agreement is signed. The three nations are to resume talks on Tuesday.