Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome said in an interview with UK-UAE news channel Sky News Arabia that 40 percent of his country’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project has been completed, and the first stage of the dam will be operational next year.
Teshome said that the first stage of the dam will be operational from June 2015 and will produce 700 megawatts of electricity.
Teshome insisted the dam will benefit Egypt, which is currently engaged in negotiations with Ethiopia over the construction of the dam. Tensions between the two countries came under strain last year, with Egyptian officials concerned that the project could affect Egypt’s vital Nile water supply.
The Ethiopian president told Sky News what is happening with Egypt is a misunderstanding and dismissed claims Israel is among the dam project’s funders.
“Addis Ababa did not and will not cooperate with Israel,” Teshome said according to Sky News, adding that the door is open for Egypt to contribute in funding the dam.
The latest round of negotiations between Ethiopia and Egypt signaled progress in reaching an agreement. Currently, an agreement has been reached between the two countries and Sudan, who hosted the last round of talks, to form an international expert committee to issue a report about the dam.
Other than the potential threat to Egypt’s share of Nile water, Egyptian experts are also concerned about the possibility of a dam collapse, which could lead to catastrophic consequences for water reaching Egypt.
Egyptian officials have stressed in recent months that relations with Ethiopia have started to improve.
Egypt’s President Abel-Fattah El-Sisi spoke with Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in the US in September.
Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Hossam El-Moghazy visited the dam’s construction site, also in September.
A tripartite meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan is expected to be held in Cairo on 20-21 October as part of the ongoing talks.