In the latest move related to the contentious construction of a huge dam on a tributary of the River Nile, Ethiopia has banned flights above the dam for ‘security reasons’.

The announcement comes a week after the Ethiopian Air Force was deemed prepared to defend the dam.

The Grand Renaissance Dam is a US$4.8 billion project seen by the government in Addis Ababa as of prime importance in the economic prosperity of the nation.

When complete it will be the largest dam in Africa and will be capable of providing over 60 million Ethiopians with electricity.

Construction has, however, led to disagreements with Egypt and Sudan, both to the northwest of Ethiopia and downstream of the dam, who fear the dam will restrict access to water supplies in the region.

Ethiopia has “plan A, plan B and so on on how to counter an enemy who knowingly or unknowingly attempts to derail this project” Major General Yilma Merdasa said on Ethiopian TV last week ahead of the latest announcement banning flights in the area.

Some sources are now claiming the damn will start to produce electricity before the summer of 2021.

It is understood the dam already has around 4.9 billion cubic metres of water in its reservoir – an amount capable of being processed through in-situ turbines.

Egypt has previously labelled the dam a “threat of potentially existential proportions” and Sudan has warned of water levels dropping in the country.

Negotiations between the three nations are ongoing, although a U.S. response has already seen funds to Ethiopia cut as punishment for starting to fill the dam prior to a conclusion to talks.

These funds are linked to ongoing projects to maintain border security, and nutritional education reports from the U.S. say.

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