By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
March 2, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia on Thursday said its security forces have foiled a plot to attack the country’s massive power plant project, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which the horn Africa’s nation is constructing on Nile River near the Sudanese border.
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The planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project (AP)
State Minister for Government Communication Affairs, Ato Zadig Abraha, said the security forces have successfully foiled an attempted attack by some 20 members of Ethiopian rebel group self-calling, Benishangul Gumez Peoples Liberation Movement.
He said 13 members of the group were shot dead while approaching the dam site to launch the attack.
While seven others who fled away to the Sudanese territory were later apprehended by Khartoum and delivered to the Ethiopian authorities.
Abraha added that the armed men travelled from Eritrea and were tasked to attack the dam and disrupt its construction process.
Ethiopia has repeatedly accused arch-foe Eritrea of training and financing Ethiopian armed opposition groups to launch attacks in Ethiopian, allegations Asmara denies.
The 4.2 billion dollar dam project which Ethiopia is constructing from own coffers is currently 56% completed.
Egypt which largely depends on Nile river for its water supply fears that the construction of what would be Africa’s largest dam would eventually diminish its water share and had since the launch of the project in 2011 been demanding halt to the mega power project.
Recently Ethiopian officials had been accusing some elements in Cairo of financing and supporting Ethiopian armed groups to sabotage completion of the project.
Some unidentified Egyptians were caught on camera while pledging to provide all necessary support for Ethiopian armed opposition groups.
Addis Ababa has then officially requested an explanation and requested that Egypt stops activities of these hostile groups.
Meanwhile, the installed hydropower generation capacity of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been increased to 6,450MW from 6000.
Initially, the dam was designed to generate 5,250MW. However, due to the upgrading made on the power plant, its generation capacity has been raised from 5,250 MW to 6,000 MW.
It was upgraded to 6450MW as a result of the improvement made on generators to boost the capacity of the power plant.
Since its launch six years ago the power plant had been upgraded twice to scale up it electricity generation capacity.
Ethiopia minister of communication and information technology, Debrestion Gebremical, last week said works are nearing completion to enable the dam to generate 750MW in advance.
“Construction of power receiver and transmission stations as well as the installation of power transmission lines have been fully completed. The only thing left is fixing the two turbines that generate 375MW each,” he told local journalists.
The next step he said is enabling the dam to hold water, he said, indicating the final preparation being made by the government to facilitate ways in which the filling of the dam’s reservoir will take place.
“We are preparing to discuss with the governments of Sudan and Egypt,” he said, reiterating that “the dam doesn’t cause any significant harm on the lower riparian countries.” the minister added.
Ethiopian officials stress that the main goal of the dam is “combating poverty and realising development and prosperity”
Ethiopia which intends to join middle-income countries by 2025 is investing billions of dollars in mega projects as part of the nation’s efforts to combat poverty and bring sustainable development.
Ethiopia is a source of 85 percent of the Nile water resources which most of Egypt’s over 80 million people depend on for water supply.