KIGALI - Nile Basin member states need to accede to the Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA) in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic development.
The call was collectively made by Members of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) yesterday during the Regional Nile Day celebrations held in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ministers in Charge of Water Affairs from member countries noted that cooperation is today more important than ever before, in the wake of climate change and its associated impacts such as droughts, floods and uncertainty over available water resources.
Rwanda’s Lands and Environment Minister, Stanislas Kamanzi, described the theme of the meeting; “altogether for cooperation”, as ‘timely’.
Egypt and Sudan have consistently refused to sign the agreement which, if signed, will give all countries in the Nile Basin equal rights on the waters of the longest river in Africa.
Both countries want to maintain hegemonic control over the waters while Sudan is seen as following Egypt’s demands.
The DRC on the other hand, has also not signed while Burundi has expressed the will to sign but is yet to do so.
“Our nations have indeed resolved to come together with a common aim of optimally tapping into the Nile Basin water resources to advance the development agenda of our respective peoples, based on the principles of equity and cooperation,” Kamanzi said.
“We have gone quite a long way towards setting up a permanent framework that will regulate our future actions at national and basin levels. Rwanda firmly believes that the faster we get to operationalise that framework, the most effectively we will be able to deliver, relative to our shared vision and core development objectives,” he added.
He noted that Rwanda still stands by the necessity for having the CFA signed and ratified by all the Nile riparian States with no further delays.
“As we meet today, Rwanda expresses her hopes that, sooner than later, we will once again get together to celebrate a new era; with the consecration of the Nile River Commission as a mechanism that will facilitate the effective translation of our ambitions into mutually beneficial outcomes to sustain the socio-economic advancement of our respective Nations,” Kamanzi added.
The Ministers pointed out that, through the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), the countries have been able to reap from the first set of benefits, giving their citizens hope for a better future.
They include the management and development of shared river basins, hydro power development and transmission as well as agriculture development and trade.
The negotiations on the CFA will pave way for the formation of a permanent legal institution for the holistic management and development of the Nile water resources.
Meanwhile, The NBI secretariat used the opportunity to launch its new interactive website, www.nilebasin.org.