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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has inaugurated electricity production at the controversial, multi-billion-euro Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile River.

Downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan view the project as a threat to their share of the Nile waters.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is set to be the largest hydro-electric scheme in Africa but has been at the centre of a regional dispute over water rights since work first began in 2011.

Addis Ababa deems the project essential for Ethiopia’s electrification and development.

The 3.7-billion-euro project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia’s total output.

Ethiopia’s state media reports that the dam has started generating 375 megawatts of electricity from one of its turbines.

The 145-metre high dam lies on Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, not far from the border with Sudan.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97% of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding, but fears its own dams could be harmed without agreement on the GERD’s operation.