Ethiopia will start generating power from its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday, government officials told AFP on Saturday.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground in 2011.
"Tomorrow will be the first energy generation of the dam," an Ethiopian government official said on Saturday.
A second official confirmed the information. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because the milestone has not been officially announced.
Ethiopia's downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Addis Ababa deems it essential for its electrification and development.
The $4.2-billion (3.7 billion euro) project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia's electricity output.
Ethiopia had initially planned an output of around 6,500 megawatts but later reduced its target.
"The newly generated electricity from the GERD could help revive an economy that has been devastated by the combined forces of a deadly war, rising fuel prices and the Covid-19 pandemic," said Addisu Lashitew of the Brookings Institution in Washington.
The dam lies on Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region in western Ethiopia, not far from the border with Sudan.