Sudan, Egypt left out
KIGALI - Environment Minister, Stanislas Kamanzi, arrived in Entebbe, Uganda yesterday evening as top officials from seven of the nine Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) member countries plan to disregard an Egypt-Sudan boycott and move forward with the signing of a pact of equitable sharing of the River Nile waters.
Kamanzi represents Rwanda on the Nile Council of Ministers’ (NIL-COM) panel and he confirmed his arrival in Uganda to sign the contentious agreement.
“I have arrived here and the reason is obvious. I will be able to communicate with more details after consulting with my colleagues,” Kamanzi said on arrival at Entebbe last evening.
The Nile ‘Cooperative Framework Agreement’ (CFA), seeks to establish a permanent Nile River Basin commission which will set clear procedures of water sharing thereby replacing the two widely disputed colonial-era pacts deemed unfair by seven countries, including Rwanda.
A 1929 pact between Egypt and Britain gives Egypt veto power over upstream projects as well as access to most of the Nile waters. Further still, a 1959 pact between Egypt and Sudan, allowed the two countries 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic metres of water, respectively, every year.
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania maintain that these past treaties are unfair and they want a reasonable water-sharing pact that allows for more irrigation and power projects.
The minister revealed that the signing will take place in Entebbe today. Rwanda and others want the pact signed as agreed in a recent meeting in the Sinai resort of Sharm El Sheik, Egypt.
Egypt wants to maintain its 55.5 billion cubic meters share of the river and also wants veto power over any new irrigation projects undertaken by the other states but the latter have rejected this clause.
The Nile Basin covers an area of about 3.1 million sq kms – about 10 percent of the African continent, and about 160 million people live within the watershed boundaries of the Nile Basin where the dominant economic sector is agriculture.