KIGALI - This year’s Regional Nile Day celebrations to be held in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) town of Goma should act as a springboard for the Nile Basin countries to move towards signing the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement.
The observation was made by the Minister of Environment and Lands, Stanilas Kamanzi, ahead of the Nile Day marked every February 22.
He noted that despite the troubles in Egypt, the course to establish the framework should not be interrupted.
The Cooperative Framework Agreement seeks to establish a permanent commission of the Nile Basin. Egypt and Sudan have, in the past, consistently refused to sign the agreement saying that it denies them full control of the Nile waters.
Kamanzi said that as a custom, Rwanda will join other Nile Basin countries to celebrate the day, calling upon member states to use the opportunity to speed up the process to establish the cooperation framework.
“It is a customary day and we will be joining the rest of the countries to appreciate the day theme of the day ‘All Together for Better Cooperation’ but also in this, we see an opportunity to use the day as a catalyst that will lead us towards all the countries getting together to sign the agreement,” Kamanzi said.
“As you might know, we are experiencing a stalemate and the problems in Egypt haven’t given us the opportunity to continue with the process but hopefully nothing will stop us,” he added.
The Minister said that DRC hosting the event gives the country, which hasn’t signed the framework agreement the opportunity to do so and that in DRC hosting the event sends across a positive message regarding the importance of the framework.
“DRC hosting the event is an opportunity to show how committed bring together all the concerned countries under one framework,” Kamanzi said.
Regarding the crisis in Egypt and the referendum in Sudan, Kamanzi said that the process of establishing the Nile Basin Commission has gone beyond the phase of talks and hence it won’t be interrupted.
“We have gone beyond the phase of talks, we thing everything is in place to establish the Nile Commission. We don’t see ourselves going back into the negotiations,” he said.
Kamanzi stated that member countries have realised the need for Ministers to continue with the processes without necessarily invoking Heads of State since the Ministers charged with the task can complete the process.
The Nile Day was established in1999 following the establishment of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) by Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the Nile Basin countries.
This years Nile Day will be celebrated under the theme: ‘All Together for Better Cooperation’. According to
A number of activities including cleaning of the Central market, a basketball match and a conference on the theme have been organized in collaboration with the Provincial Government of North Kivu.
The choice of Goma was motivated by its important water catchment area as part of the Nile Basin system.
The Nile cooperation between countries that are connected to the River Nile is considered important for bringing together countries that share the Nile waters.
More than 160 million people live within the basin and expect benefits from the management and utilization of its shared water resources.
Better management could bring a vast range of benefits including increased hydropower and food production, better access to water for domestic use, improved management of water sheds and reduced environmental degradation, reduced pollution and more control over damage from floods and droughts.
Locally celebrations to mark the day have been organised by the Nile Basin Discourse Forum (NBDF), Rwanda and will take place on February 22 at La Palisse Nyandungu.
The half day event will include a workshop to discuss the Nile day and how Rwanda can enhance networking and information exchange for more dialogue on the Nile Basin.
The Nile Basin is shared by countries including Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Uganda, Egypt, Eritrea (as an observer), Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan.