2 February 2013

Rwanda: Nile Waters Should Be a Source of Cooperation - Egyptian Envoy

The Egyptian Ambassador to Rwanda, Khaled Abdel Rahman, has spoken out on the Nile Waters; calling on the Nile Basin Countries to consider using the waters as a source of cooperation other than causing contention.

Rahman said that although there might be differences basing on ideology per country, dialogue should be the way to go.

"After the revolution in 2011, we focused on placing relations with our counterparts in the region and beyond, especially basing on our foreign policy priorities," said Rahman in an exclusive interview.

Nile Basin Countries are those through which River Nile flows through. They include Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Tanzania.

Rahman explained that his government was committed to building on the existing foundation in promoting peace in the region through dialogue on how countries can benefit from the Nile River.

There has been a long standing disagreement between the Nile Basin countries over the waters that stretches from the colonial treaties that awarded Egypt and Sudan control over the bulk of the river's waters.

As one of the mechanisms to deal with such disagreements, the countries initiated the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) or treaty in 2010.

Among other factors the treaty states that no state will exercise hegemony over the Nile waters and their allocation or even claim exclusive rights over the waters.

Apart from Egypt and Sudan, all the member countries have signed this treaty.

"For us we look forward to reach a united basin based on the win-win principal and materialize the interests of all Nile Basin countries with no exception," the Ambassador said.

The Nile Waters are a key factor towards development in these respective countries but it has also been a threat that has caused misunderstandings to the extent of countries nearly going to war for not equally benefiting.

"In 2011, we organized the first ever forum for the Nile Basin Youth to hear and exchange experience from each member country as well as activating the role of the youth in the Nile Basin," the Egyptian ambassador said.

One of the issues that sparked bitterness over the Nile water use was Ethiopia's move to set up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Beles River which is a tributary to River Nile. Egypt argued that it would have a direct negative impact and reduction of the waters that flows there.

Experts say that there is enough water in the Nile River for all countries in which it flows and that it can significantly help in fighting poverty so long as small scale farmers have access to the water, especially for irrigation.

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