River Nile row: Ethiopia bans flights above Grand Renaissance Dam

Africa's biggest hydro-electric plant
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Ethiopia's civil aviation authority has banned all flights over a controversial mega dam being built on a tributary of the River Nile, for security reasons.

Ethiopia sees the $4.8bn (£3.2bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) as crucial for its economic growth.

But it has led to bitter disputes with Egypt and Sudan, both of which are downstream and fear the large dam will greatly reduce their access to water.

It comes a week after Ethiopia's air force warned it was ready to defend it.

Speaking on state television last week Maj-Gen Yilma Merdasa said the air force had modernised its fighter jets, and had a "plan A, plan B and so on on how to counter an enemy who knowingly or unknowingly attempts to derail this project."

The head of Ethiopia's civil aviation authority told the BBC on Monday that it was common for the country to ban flights above major projects.

Africa's biggest hydro-electric plant

The dam will produce electricity within the next 12 months, the Reuters news agency quotes President Sahle-Work Zewde as saying. There are already 4.9 billion cubic metres in the reservoir sitting behind the dam - this means that the water level has reached the height of the first two turbines.

Once complete, the Gerd will be the biggest hydro-electric plant in Africa and provide power to up to 65 million Ethiopians.

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