Does tripartite deal herald a new dawn for Nile Basin Initiative?

The agreement between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on sharing River Nile waters is a good step toward solving African challenges, Rwanda’s Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn, shakes hands with President Bashir (R) after the signing ceremony  in Khartoum on Monday. (Athan Tashobya)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn, shakes hands with President Bashir (R) after the signing ceremony in Khartoum on Monday. (Athan Tashobya)

The agreement between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on sharing River Nile waters is a good step toward solving African challenges, Rwanda’s Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, said.

Harelimana was speaking on Moday after the signing of the declaration of principle on the Ethiopian Renaissance dam by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn. The minister represented Rwanda as a witness at the signing.

The tripartite agreement signed at the Republican Palace in Khartoum, Sudan, is meant to pave way for negotiations relating to the usage of the dam under construction in Ethiopia, as well as the entire Nile waters.

It stipulates that the three countries should comply with the recommendations of the advisory committee constituted to implement the agreement.

“As Rwanda, we believe that Africans are brothers and sisters and, therefore, a deal on sharing benefits of River Nile does not only consolidate peace and stability but also paves way for regional economic development,” Harelimana said.

President Bashir described the deal as an ‘unprecedented historical action’ between the three states.

“The agreement is a step toward increased cooperation as well as regional peace and stability,” he said.

President Bashir’s comments were echoed by his Egyptian counterpart Al-Sisi, who said the agreement will be of great benefit to the Nile basin countries.

“We now begin a new era of love and trust that will ensure prosperity for our people. Egyptians entirely depend on the Nile for water whilch makes this agreement an important milestone in their lives,” Al-sisi said.

Previously, Egypt had feared that the Grand Renaissance Dam project could diminish its water supply. However, the Egyptian President, while consenting to the agreement, noted: “Egypt has no reservations over the Renaissance Dam and we wish Ethiopia well.”

After the singing ceremony, President Al-sis and Desalegn flew to Addis Ababa, where the Egyptian President was expected to address Parliament and express his satisfaction about the agreement.

Prime Minister Desalegn said his government was well aware of the importance of the Nile to Ethiopians, especially those in the lower stream, adding that the dam project is in common interest of all the countries in the Nile basin.

The Grand Renaissance Dam is located on the Blue Nile, about 20km from the Sudanese border. Its total storage capacity stands at 74 cubic meters of water, and is expected to generate up to 6,000MW of electricity.

Many observers said the agreement would pave way for more agreements on the entire Nile basin initiative which serves 11 countries.

River Nile, the longest river in the world, serves all countries that constitute the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) born sixteen years ago.

The countries are locked in a longstanding dispute over use of the Nile waters with the upstream countries, including Rwanda, backing a proposed deal that would allow equal rights to the river by all Nile Basin states, while upstream countries, especially Egypt, favour colonial decrees that gave Cairo exclusive rights to the river.

It is hoped that the new tripartite deal will help gather momentum toward the successful completion of talks on the broader new Nile Basin states agreement.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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