UGANDA - Rwanda yesterday joined three other Nile basin states in signing the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) which took ten years of negotiations among partner states.
The agreement, which has been boycotted by Egypt and Sudan, was also signed by Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.
The 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
In an interview with The New Times shortly after the signing ceremony in Entebbe, Uganda, Environment Minister, Stanislas Kamanzi ,described the event as “a day to open up for the signing of the CFA,” adding that other partner states that didn’t sign will also have their time.
Member states like; Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were represented at the event, and the Burundi envoy was reported to be away due to several engagements back home.
Kamanzi regretted the fact that Egypt and Sudan weren’t able to sign but expressed optimism that there is still a whole year in which states can sign.
“I think it’s time for us to continue dialoguing, and in the end we hope that all of us - the Nile- plus Eritrea, which we hope will be joining in anytime soon, will get to agree on how we proceed as one basin,” he said.
The Minister said that all the countries that signed the agreement are committed to its swift ratification.
Uganda’s Water and Environment Minister, Maria Mutagamba reiterated her government’s commitment to working with the rest of the countries in resolving pending issues after establishing the Nile River Basin Commission.
Ethiopia’s Water Resources Minister, Asfaw Dingamo, said that there is no need for aggression and that once there is cooperation, the Nile resource is enough for all countries involved.
Tanzania’s Water and Irrigation Minister Mark Mwandosya said that the essence of getting together is to move quickly in an inclusive manner based on principles of equitable sharing of our resources to develop our respective populations
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.