2 March 2017

East Africa: Museveni - There Is No Reason for Conflict Over River Nile

Photo: Daily Monitor
A part River Nile.

President Yoweri Museveni has said Uganda has not yet ratified the "Nile Agreement" on the use of the River Nile waters, as it is pursuing a maximum consensus on the issue. He said the disagreement between Egypt and other nations on the River Nile is either due to misinformation or not enough discussion.

"The problem of Africa is not water. The problem of Africa is confusion, under-development and ideological disorientation. Instead of quarreling, we should agree on the Nile, develop the population so that we do not waste the water," Museveni said.

Museveni was speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at State House Entebbe after bilateral talks.

Responding to a question from the press, he said "I have not yet ratified because I want to dialogue. To get a consensus, it is better we have more dialogue, more talking. If you preserve backwardness in Uganda, how does that help the Nile?".

The most recent conflict arose after Ethiopia planned to build dams for electricity that Egypt felt would be a threat on water supply to their country.

The Nile is the world's longest river flowing 6,700 kilometers through ten countries in northeastern Africa -- Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

Electricity will save the River Nile

Museveni said the Nile action plan should actually include electrification of the Nile Basin region, as lack of power is actually the biggest danger to the river.

"Lack of electricity in the tropics is the biggest danger. When people do not have electricity, they cut trees for firewood. When they cut trees, the environment is damaged, which affects water flow," Museveni said.

Museveni said the lack of industrialization, forces many people to remain in agriculture and invade the swamps.

"The second danger to the Nile is backwardness. If you have got backward societies, the Nile will be in trouble. Without industrialization, the people will engage in primitive agriculture, and primitive agriculture means you go into the forest and invade the wetlands."

He said up to 40% of Uganda's rain, most of which then flows to the Nile, comes from the wetlands.

Prime Minister Desalegn, who is accompanied on a 3-day state visit by his wife, Roman Tesfaye Abney arrived in the country earlier today and was this afternoon received at State House, Entebbe by his host Museveni and his wife, Janet Museveni.

"I thank the PM for accepting my invitation. He has come on the anniversary of the Battle of Adwa, where King Menelik defeated the Italians on the 2nd of March 1896. I congratulate the people of Ethiopia on this occasion," Museveni said.

2nd March 1896: Ethiopia defeats Italy at Battle of Adowa under Menelik II. It served notice that Africa was not just there "for the taking" pic.twitter.com/4ARbt2itMz

The bilateral talks that followed centered on several regional issues including use of the River Nile waters under the auspices of the Nile Basin Summit.

On South Sudan, the two countries agreed on ways for continued stabilization in Juba, using the IGAD, which is currently chaired by Prime Minister Desalegn.

The two countries agreed to continue working together to create an enabling environment for Somalia to build state pillars, establish minimum infrastructure and social services.They also agreed to strengthen cooperation on defence matters.

On trade, they agreed to explore areas in which the two countries can trade with each other especially now that there is a route (road) connecting Kenya and Ethiopia at Moyale - which they can take advantage of.

We shall hold bilateral talks with the Ethiopian delegation as we seek to strengthen economic & political r/ship between our countries. pic.twitter.com/nlCGIPzifD

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