River Nile flows through several Central, East and Northern African countries, but the distribution of its waters among the Nile basin countries has, for long, been a bone of contention in the region.
Colonial agreements handed Egypt and the Sudan powers to veto projects in the countries upstream that could use the water. The agreements guaranteed both the countries a combined use of almost 90 per cent of the waters of the Nile.
Recently, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia signed the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) in Entebbe, which seeks to ensure equitable use of the Nile waters among the basin countries.
The Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi have also made it clear that they will sign the agreement.
Egypt, however, declined to sign or entertain any discussions that are meant to change the colonial agreements that guaranteed the country more control over the waters.
The Egyptian minister for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is quoted as having rubbished the treaty signed by other countries that share the Nile. He referred to the agreement as non-binding, insisting that his government still stands by the colonial agreements. Another Minister, went on to say that Egypt will take “whatever steps are necessary” to protect its “historic rights.”
While Egypt is one of the countries that rely on the Nile to survive, it is important that there is dialogue to avoid escalation of disagreement. The Nile waters are important to the countries through which the river flows and is a potential source of conflict.
There should be dialogue involving various sectors, including governments, civil society and development partners to resolve the issue.