Ethiopia Diverts Blue Nile For Controversial Dam Build

Ethiopia has started diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile to make way for a $4.7bn (3.1bn) hydroelectric dam that has caused a dispute with countries downstream, state media say. The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is currently under construction, is part of a $12bn (8bn) investment project to boost power exports. The Blue Nile is one of two major tributaries of the Nile - one of the world's longest rivers. Egypt and Sudan object to the dam. They say it violates a colonial-era agreement, which gives them rights to 90% of the Nile's water. 'Fair use' The Grand Renaissance Dam, which is being built in the Benishangul-Gumuz region bordering Sudan, will eventually have a 6,000 megawatt capacity, according to the Ethiopian government. This is the equivalent of at least six nuclear power plants. "The dam is being built in the middle of the river so you can't carry out construction work while the river flowed," Mihret Debebe, chief executive officer of the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, told the Reuters news agency. "This now enables us to carry out civil engineering work without difficulties. The aim is to divert the river by a few metres and then allow it to flow on its natural course." Ethiopia claims to be the source of about 85% of the total water in the Nile. The Blue Nile originates in the country's Lake Tana and flows hundreds of miles north into Sudan and then Egypt before eventually flowing into the Mediterranean.