Ethiopia's $5bn project that could turn it into Africa's water powerhouse

Story highlights

  • Ethiopia is building the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa
  • The country says the $5bn Grand Renaissance Dam is funded entirely by the government and its people
  • Neighboring Sudan and Egypt fear that the dam will affect their water supply

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(CNN)It's called the Grand Renaissance Dam -- and the clue is in the name.

With some 8,500 laborers working around the clock on its construction, the imposingly-named dam is surely one of Africa's most ambitious infrastructure projects, reaffirming Ethiopia's ambitions of becoming a big regional player and a major exporter of power.
    When completed, the project will generate around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and exports.
      The most striking aspect of the nearly $5 billion enterprise is, however, that it is entirely funded by Ethiopia, without any foreign investment. According to the authorities, 20% of the project is financed from bond offerings to Ethiopians, and the remaining 80% from tax collection.
      "It was seen as a strategically important initiative that the government and the Ethiopian people are financing it 100%," says Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner at Ernst & Young Ethiopia.