ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua)-- The Ethiopian government on Friday disclosed that the construction of its 6,450 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached 62 percent completion rate.
With the current speed of the dam construction, it's expected test power generation will start in 2018, Hailu Abraham, Public Relations Head at Office of Ethiopia National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of GERD, told Xinhua.
"Currently 11,000 people are working on GERD, 300 of whom are foreigners, with the Italian firm Salini Impregilo undertaking the civil works while a local firm Metal and Engineering Corporation is undertaking mechanical and hydraulic works," he said.
The construction of the dam, which will be Africa's largest dam upon completion with a total volume of 74 billion cubic meters, was started in April 2011 with a cost of about 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.
The GERD project, owned and financed by the Ethiopian government, is ongoing on the Blue Nile River, located some 40km east of Ethiopia's neighboring country Sudan.
"When complete, more than 50 percent of the dam's generated electricity will be sold to Nile river basin countries and neighboring countries," said Abraham, adding that the Ethiopian government has placed the dam's completion at the center of Ethiopia's economic ambitions.
The Ethiopian government even sees the electricity generated from the dam being sold in the future as far north to Morocco and as far south to Tanzania.
Acutely aware of the national and international significance of the project, the Ethiopian government has facilitated visits so far to the dam site to more than 260,000 Ethiopians and more than 400 local and foreign media outlets since April 2011.
Ethiopia's Blue Nile river contributes 59 percent of the Nile river basin's water flow, with Egypt who relies on the Nile river as the only ground fresh water source having in recent times expressed concern on the impact the dam will have on its water share.