By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ADABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia said on Saturday no amount of misunderstanding would compel it to halt construction of the $4.8 billion mega hydro dam project on River Nile.
Seleshi Bekele, the Ethiopian minister of water, electricity and irrigation, said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has completed 63 percent of its construction and soon it will be generating electricity.
He was speaking at a news conference at his office in the capital Addis Ababa.
His remarks came amidst heightening tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Last month, a meeting of water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Cairo ended, without reaching an agreement on the "inception report" put forth by the international consultants -- BRL and Artelia -- hired by the three countries to study the impact of the dam.
It has been six years since Ethiopia launched the GERD project, near the Ethiopia-Sudan border.
Ever since this latest unsuccessful meeting, there has been strong word coming from the Egyptian side.
Egypt fears the dam's construction will negatively affect its historical share of Nile water, which -- under a colonial-era water-sharing treaty -- stands at 55.5 billion cubic meters of water per year.
Addis Ababa says electricity generated by the dam -- which was initially slated for completion this year -- will help eradicate poverty and contribute to the country’s development.
“Ethiopia cannot be bound by this treaty as it had not been a part of it,” Bekeli said.