ADDIS ABABA – The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached 90 percent, officials disclosed on Thursday.
The announcement was made ahead of a week-long event to raise funds for the $5 billion hydroelectric dam construction project on River Blue Nile.
Ethiopia started the construction in 2011 through domestic finance mobilization after conventional lenders refused to support the project.
Benishangul region’s Assosa city will host the bond sale event that will launch the week-long fundraiser.
At least 100 million Birr is expected to be raised from bond sales, the Office of National Coordination for the Construction of the Dam said.
The Office expects to raise 2 Billion Birr in the current Ethiopian fiscal year through various fundraising campaigns.
Ethiopians including those in the diaspora have contributed more than 17 billion Birr to the construction project since its launch 12 years ago.
Despite contributing more than 86 percent of the water to River Nile, Ethiopia has not utilized the resource. The GERD, which started early power generation last year, is expected to change that.
The construction of the dam is now 90% complete, the coordinating office of public participation for GERD. Its deputy head Fikirte Tamir urged the public to step up support to take the project to the finishing line.
The dam has been a source of a decade-long diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.
While Sudanese officials dials down its stand over the dam, Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry last week threatened Ethiopia saying “all options are open” to defend Egypt’s interests. Shoukry’s remark was branded as “callous and unlawful” by Addis Ababa.
The trilateral talks failed to yield agreement after Egypt and Sudan circumvented the African Union-led process and took the issue to the UN security council a year ago.
The key sticking point surrounds the filling and operation of the reservoir behind the hydropower project. Cairo wants Ethiopia to cease filling the reservoir until such a deal is reached. Addis Ababa insists the filling is a natural part of the construction process and cannot be stopped.
The filling will continue as scheduled during rainy seasons based on the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed by the leaders of the three Nile countries in 2015, as per the Ethiopian Foreign ministry.
The ministry further stated that only negotiations “in good faith and with full respect for principles of international law” could lead to a solution to the dam dispute.
“No interest can be advanced through threats and intimidation,” said the Ministry in a response to Cairo’s top diplomat.
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