The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a staggering development located approximately 500 km north west of the capital Addis Ababa, in the region of Benishangul – Gumaz along the Blue Nile. At 1,800 m long, 155 m high and with a total volume of 74,000 million m³, the dam will be the largest dam in Africa.
Having constantly struggled with drought, the Ethiopian government wholly believes that this project will not only alleviate poverty but that the water will transform Ethiopia’s landscape. However, scientists are worried though that the dam may have negative effects on Ethiopia’s neighbors, Egypt and Sudan. These concerns have become very pronounced. The scientists believe that the speed at which the dam’s reservoir is filled could see Egypt and Sudan suffer economically.
Egypt is particularly concerned because it gets about 60 per cent of its water from the Nile and a sizable percentage of its 95 million people live along the banks of the Nile or around the delta it forms as it approaches the Mediterranean Sea. It should take anywhere between 5-15 years to fill this dam and this will have decidedly negative impacts on the Nile’s water flow.
Scientists have also broached the subject of climate change as a significant problem. The effects of climate change are still unknown, and Ethiopia has had several droughts already due to the same, so scientists fear that the unpredictability makes the whole endeavor unstable.
GERD Project Background
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was started in 2011 when construction was launched on the Blue Nile. The GERD, when completed, will be the eighth largest dam in the world, and will create the second largest water reservoir on the Nile. The first coincidentally is the Aswan High Dam located in Egypt.
The GERD project is valued at € 3,377.05 million and will also consist of the main dam in Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC), with 2 power stations installed at the foot of the dam. The power stations are positioned on the right and left banks of the river and comprise 16 Francis turbines with a total installed power of 6,000 MW and estimated production of 15,000 GWh per year. The project is completed by a 15,000 m3/s capacity concrete spillway and a rockfill saddle dam 5 km long and 50 m high, both located on the left bank.