Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam is constructed in Guba Woreda, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, June 28, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement Saturday announcing that the country's Grand Renaissance Dam will start to generate electricity within 18 months.
The planned $4.2 billion dam is expected to be the largest hydroelectric dam in the continent, with sixteen turbines, two of which would generate 375mw of power each.
The dam has been a source of concern to Egypt as it worries its share of Nile waters would be negatively impacted. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have engaged in negotiations on the dam to no avail, with Ethiopia insisting the dam won't affect Egypt's water supply and Egypt arguing that not enough research has been conducted on the possible impact of the dam.
The ministry's statement, quoting a statement by Grand Renaissance Dam Deputy General Director Zadig Abraha, said that over the past three years the sale of bonds to domestic investors had provided $367 million towards the construction of the dam.
Ethiopia has set its eyes on electricity exportation as a new source of revenue and, according to Abraha, to reduce its trade deficit. Other electricity-generating projects are being constructed, such as the Adama wind farm and the Gibe III hydroelectric dam.
According to Abraha, once the hydropower projects start operating, Ethiopia could earn up to $2 billion a year from the export of power.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible impact of the dam and to try to generate consensus on the project.
In recent meetings in Khartoum, the tripartite committee was scheduled to draft a document that entails "confidence building measures" between the countries, and also to form a special international conflict resolution committee.
However, the tripartite committee's efforts were thwarted in December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the Renaissance Dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.