18 April 2013 – Ethiopia is currently building its Grand Renaissance hydroelectric project, which will have a power production capacity of some 6,000 MW. The project, located on the Blue Nile River near the Sudanese border, is employing some 5,000 local people and 100 foreign contractors.

Recently Saudi Arabia’s deputy defence minister made highly critical comments about the US$4.8 billion project and its threat to national security of both Sudan and Egypt.

The Ethiopian government reacted fiercely to the statements and summoned the Saudi ambassador for Ethiopia seeking an official explanation of the remarks, according to the Sudan Tribune.

Saudi Arabia rapidly distanced itself from the deputy defence minister’s comments. Despite strong protests from downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt, who argued the dam would reduce the flow of the water to their territories, Ethiopia launched construction on Africa’s biggest hydroelectric project in March 2011. The project is reported as being 18% completed with plans to complete the dam in 2016 on track.