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Nile dam equates second to human life, Ethiopia's says PM Abiy

Christian Fernsby |
The $5 billion dam Ethiopia is building on the River Nile is the second most important thing for Ethiopians and second only to the human life, the prime minister said.

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Although the new coronavirus emerged as the most existential threat currently, Abiy Ahmed said: “But it should not hold us back from finishing our dam, which is our lifeline. Saving lives is our priority while second to this we have the GERD."

Abiy made his remarks in a statement issued on occasion of the ninth year of the start of construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a flagship project coming up on a tributary of the river in Ethiopia near the Sudan border.

The move by Ethiopia greatly irked Egypt, a nation most downstream and that for centuries dominated the Nile on claim that the resource is Egypt’s "historical right".

Ethiopia contributes 85% of the waters of the Nile, a mighty river that traverses 11 countries.

Egypt fears the GERD would significantly reduce its “share” that amounts, according to a 1959 colonial-era treaty that did not involve Ethiopia, to 55.5 billion cubic meters. Ethiopia maintains that the Nile is its natural resource and it needs energy for development.

The 2019 Nobel Laureate for Peace, Abiy reiterated that Ethiopia "will begin filling the dam in the coming rainy season (July)."

"The COVID-19 phenomenon should not deter us from finishing the GERD, which is a symbol of both sovereignty and national unity for Ethiopians," he said.

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