Sunday was a banner day for water management in the Horn of Africa and the pharaohs are presumably rolling in their pyramids. Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, took to X to congratulate all concerned on the fourth and final filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. “Our national perseverance against all odds has delivered,” he wrote. A colossal reservoir behind the dam, 30 km from the Sudanese border, is now full. Water is sluicing down the main spillway. Up to 5,000 megawatts of power will flow from the dam’s 12 turbines into Ethiopia’s grid, doubling the country’s supply and in principle bringing electricity to the half of its population that currently has none. But Ahmed’s gloat was a power play that could backfire. Negotiations with Sudan and Egypt on Nile water usage restarted last month after a two-and-a-half year stalemate. Cairo called the Ethiopian announcement illegal and said it would “weigh” on future talks. Ethiopia’s position has been that the dam won’t limit downstream water access, but this isn’t true. In times of drought, the flow below the dam could fall to a trickle.
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