Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

27 May 2014

Tanzania: Meeting Planned to Review Nile Basin Deal

Dodoma — THE government will soon convene a meeting to review Comprehensive Framework Agreement on the Nile Basin, which would ensure that it does not affect water users in Egypt and other countries, the National Assembly was told.

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Bernard Membe, told the House that the meeting would be held in Dar es Salaam in July.

The Nile Basin countries expected to attend the meeting are Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Sudan and hosts, Tanzania.

He was responding to a supplementary question by Mr Ibrahim Sanya (Mji Mkongwe-CUF), who wanted to know when the Nile Basin agreement, signed in 1929, will be changed.

The MP said the agreement favoured Egypt and Sudan in water uses more than any other countries through which the River Nile passes.

Mr Membe told the House that the 1929 Agreement had four components, which are to provide 55 per cent of water rights to Egypt, 15 per cent of water right to Sudan, veto power to Egypt on the uses of water and 30 per cent for evaporation.

"Apart from Egypt and Sudan, there was no any country which was allowed to utilise the Nile River waters in construction of dams, irrigation or drinking," he said.

He further said that there was another meeting held in Entebbe, Uganda in 2009/10, which resolved to allow nine countries to use water from the river.

Mr Membe said the Nile Basin has also increased tourism-related activities between Tanzania and Egypt For, example, he noted, Egypt Air had added two direct flights from Tanzania to other parts of the world to ensure Tanzania expanded her tourism sector.

He also said that for the past two years Tanzania, has received over 13,000 tourists from Egypt. Earlier in her basic question, Special Seats Legislator Amina Mwadau, asked the government to explain whether the recent political changes in Egypt would affect Tanzania on the use of Nile Basin resources.

She wanted to know which business sectors would be affected with the political changes in Egypt. The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Mahadhi Maalim, said in response that Tanzania did not ratify the 2010 Comprehensive Framework agreement on the Nile Basin.

He said Egypt, with a population of over 70 million; depended very much on the Nile River since a big part of the country was a desert with very little rainfall.

"We think it is much better to rethink whether it was fair for all nine countries to have similar uses of Nile water or not," he said. Dr Maalim said Egypt was doing well in irrigation farming.

"A total of 78 million Egyptians depend on the Nile River. Without the Nile, there is no Egypt. If the water level goes down, then the Egyptians will not be able to do any irrigation farming," he observed.

The deputy minister told the House that for the agreement to become operational, six countries needed to ratify it when the political situation in Egypt calms down.

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