A dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia is escalating tensions in the region. African Union-led talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam broke down on Monday. There are fears that the filling of the dam could lead to armed conflict. Ethiopia is constructing the dam to supply electricity to its rural areas. It is the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa and is two-thirds finished. Ethiopia has started filling the dam, which has raised alarm in Cairo. Egypt views the dam as an "existential threat" and is concerned the dam will reduce its water supplies. Most of Egypt's water comes entirely from the Nile, particularly during times of drought.
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The Blue Nile originates in natural springs above Lake Tana in Ethiopia. It supplies the majority of the water for the Nile River. The Blue Nile merges with the White Nile near Khartoum in Sudan. The waterway becomes the River Nile from the point of confluence of the two rivers. Ethiopia calls the dam an "existential necessity". Taxes from Ethiopian citizens have largely paid for the dam. Ethiopia's government says the dam is essential as nearly half the country's population lacks access to electricity. Egypt has said it could share electricity with Ethiopia instead of the dam being used. An Egyptian politician said: "One nation's need for electricity is pinned to another nation's need for water."