2 May 2017

Africa: Egyptian Minister to Discuss River Nile With Museveni

Photo: Dominic Bukenya/Daily Monitor
Magnificent. A View of Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile River in the Murchison Falls National Park in Masindi District.

Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry is to meet Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni to discuss management of the R.Nile waters.

According to a brief statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry, Shoukry will deliver a letter to the president from his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, on dealing with water-security issues and the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).

The meeting is also aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation between Uganda and other countries within Nile Basin. In March, Mohammed Abdel-Atti, Egypt's minister of Water Resources and Irrigation attended the extraordinary Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-Com) where Egypt's demand for greater control of activities related to the flow of the river Nile were rejected.

Sam Cheptoris, the Nile-Com chairman, also Uganda's minister of Water and Environment, told journalists after the meeting that all the countries have equal rights over the water under the Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA).

"We have rejected demands by the Egyptian government to take full control of the Nile's water. The other countries also have a say on how the water is used, as they have growing populations that need to use the water as much as the Egyptians," said Cheptoris.

Egyptian officials took note of the report by Nile-Com and asked for more time to study, consult and report back their formal position. The March meeting was to facilitate Egypt's resumption to fully participate in NBI activities after being out for six years.

In 2010, it froze its operations in NBI after six out of 10 upstream states signed a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) to seek more water from the River Nile -- a move it strongly objected.

Six Nile Basin countries; Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda formed the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) but Egypt and Sudan declined to sign.

They argued that although the CFA (also known as Entebbe Agreement) sets out principles and obligations of member states regarding use of the basin's water resources, only they (Egypt and Sudan) had the historic water-sharing pacts.

In 1929, Britain and Egypt signed a treaty where upstream countries were required to ask for permission before undertaking any development on the Nile waters.

The Nile Basin Initiative has ten permanent members -- Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.

Egypt's concern mainly stems from Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which it estimates will drastically reduce the amount of water that flows downstream to Egypt. Once complete, the Grand Ethiopian dam will be Africa's biggest hydroelectric source.

Earlier this year during the three-day state visit of Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian prime minister, president Museveni suggested that a Summit of Heads of State will be considered to address the River Nile waters issue.

He observed that the disagreement between Egypt and other nations on the River Nile was either due to misinformation or not enough discussion. It's expected that the Shoukry-Museveni meet will mainly be about how to solve the chaos around the Nile waters.

URN

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