The planned 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia's bid to become Africa's biggest power exporter, but until this week progress had been unclear after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last August canceled a state-run conglomerate's contract to build the turbines.
State media reported on Wednesday that the government had signed an agreement with GE Hydro France, a unit of GE Renewables, to accelerate the completion of the dam, and water and energy minister Seleshi Bekele said on Thursday the project was on track to open in two years' time.
Egypt’s former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Cairo is following up with concern the latest developments on the dam’s construction.
“Ethiopia will not be able to fill the dam’s basin with water until it resolves its problems with Egypt … or else it will spark a new crisis and things will get complicated,” he said.
The project has caused problems with Egypt, which fears the dam will restrict Nile River waters coming down from Ethiopia's highlands, through the deserts of Sudan, to Egyptian fields and reservoirs.
Ethiopia disputes that and in November Abiy was quoted by Egyptian state media as saying he wanted to preserve Egypt's Nile rights.