ADDIS ABABA – The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will start to generate electricity in the first months of the Ethiopian New year, said Dr. Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
Ethiopia started the construction of the Dam in 2011 through domestic finance mobilization after conventional financial institutions became reluctant to support the project.
With more than 80 percent complete, authorities conducted filling the dam’s reservoir in two consecutive kiremt rainy seasons and currently stored 18.4 billion cubic meters.
The necessary preparations are now underway to enable the two turbines of the GERD to generate electricity in the first months of the coming Ethiopian New year, said Minister Seleshi in an interview he gave to the state-run Ethiopian News Agency Thursday.
Despite encountering various challenges in the negotiation process of GERD, Seleshi said the construction process of the dam has intensified.
He also insisted Ethiopia is within its full right to use its natural resources in order to defeat poverty in the country. The GERD, being built on Abay River (Blue Nile), will be vital in that process, he added.
Blessing from religious leaders
On the eve of 2014 Ethiopian new year, leaders of seven religions in Ethiopia have paid a visit to the renaissance dam construction project site.
“Religious leaders conducted prayers and passed good wishes to All at the New Year’s Eve,” said Dr. Sileshi, who accompanied them during the visit, together with top officials from the ministry of peace and Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP).
“Ethiopia has 1000s years of proud history, peace & tranquility where major religions like Christianity, Muslim and Jewish religions lived side by side. Praying together for Ethiopia and its people and the world. Happy 2014!,” the minister said.
Apart from filling its ever growing electric energy for domestic and industrial use, Ethiopia plans to generate much needed foreign currency from the sale of electricity generated from the Dam to neighboring countries.