A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia March 31, 2015 - AFP.
CAIRO – 15 December 2018: Possible defects with the hydro-electrical plant’s equipment of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will postpone its completion to the end of 2022, according to the dam’s construction manager who was quoted by different media outlets.
Although the completion of the multi-billion dollar dam was set to finalize in five years since its launch in 2011, the time-frame, given the new developments, extended to 11 years.
Talking to the Associated Press, GERD manager Kifle Hora, who was recently assigned to manage the major project succeeding late Simegnew Bekele, said there were concerns about the quality of the electro-mechanical works in the project, which were handled by the country’s military-run Metal and Engineering Corporation (MetEC).
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed strongly criticized the corporation’s performance, blaming it for the project’s lagging, which is costing the government. In November, MetEC’s former head Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew and a number of high level officials were arrested over charges of embezzlement and mismanagement.
Along with MetEC, the Italian company, Salini Impreglio, was also hired for the construction work of the multi-billion dollar GERD; Salini finalized 82 percent of its assigned work.
According to Ethiopia’s The Reporter newspaper, the dam has consumed 98 billion birr ($3.5 billion) against its initial total budget of 80 billion birr. Manager Kifle has left open the expected budget to be consumed until work is done, putting the figure of annual cost of the delay at USD 800 million.
For seven years, constant tripartite talks have been between top officials from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to reach an agreement on the period of time required for filling the Ethiopian reservoir, as the two other states are concerned over its effect on their share of the Nile River. The Reporter quoted the 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as saying that the negotiation process reached a state of terms whether the dam should be filled within the range of four to seven years period. However, no similar announcement has been disclosed from the Egyptian side. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi rather urged last month the technical committees to reach an agreement soon since they have not yet.
"We want to turn Ethiopia's good intentions into [actual] agreements," Sisi stated, adding that Egypt wants to ensure the dam “will not be used for political purposes.”
Assistant Foreign Minister to Africa Affairs, Wael Adel Nasr told Egypt Today that although the GERD is a real problem, “it still can be handled without tensions because Ethiopia’s leadership and people are smart and are fully aware of the situation.”
“It is not possible that Ethiopia would reach the extent to cut off the water flow to Egypt as many people are afraid from,” Nasr added.
The GERD is a problem but can be handled without tensions because Ethiopia’s leadership and people are smart and are fully aware, ruling out “mistaken concerns” of Ethiopia cutting water flowing to Egypt.
The dam has social and political importance to Addis Ababa, given its expected immense generation of hydro-power that would help in the country’s power shortage, and consequently having impact on education and health sectors. Besides, the completion of such a giant project is considered a huge political leverage for the people of Ethiopia.