MEROWE, Sudan, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday inaugurated the Merowe Dam, the longest of its kind on the world famous Nile river in Sudan's Northern province, some 450 km north of the capital city Khartoum.
"In the name of the Sudanese people, I announce that the dam begins generating now," Bashir, who came here earlier in the morning and toured the dam with his entourage and heads of Chinese contractors.
"The dam is a project of the century," he said, adding that "it is a pride of Sudan, the Arabs as well as the world."
His remarks were hailed by thousands of local residents and representatives of Chinese and Sudanese workers, some of whom have travailed at the site for nearly six years.
"We thank the Chinese brothers for their efforts on constructing the dam," said Bashir, wielding his stick high atop a desk on an improvised platform at the ensuing inauguration ceremony.
He added that the Merowe Dam "is great milestone of our development, and we will continue building more similar projects for the welfare of the Sudanese people in the future."
The ceremony was also attended by the chief of Sudanese Dams Implementation Unit, Chinese Ambassador Li Chengwen and delegations of several Arab funds which helped fund the project.
With a total span of 9.7 km and a maximum height of 67 meters, the Merowe Dam is a multipurpose project designed for power supply and agricultural irrigation. It has a 1.24-billion-cubic-meter reservoir that could help more than 4 million local residents living along the Nile.
The dam, which costs 603 million euros, was built by CCMD JV, a joint venture formed by China Water Resources & Hydropower and China International Water & Electric Corp.