Sunday January 20 2013

Egypt still undecided on River Nile sharing agreement

By Frederic Musisi

Egypt is still undecided about signing the River Nile sharing agreement and will not be a part of it soon, the country’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Dr Mohamed Baha’a El-Din has said.

Contested clauses
During a press briefing in Kampala Friday, Dr El-Din said the Nile sharing agreement also known as the Entebbe Framework, has some clauses that needed revision.

“What we need to focus on here are the bilateral relations between our countries (Uganda and Egypt) not the Nile sharing treaty,” he said, noting that, the two countries had a lot to achieve in partnership than focusing on the agreement.

The deal was initiated in 1999 by the Nile Basin countries (Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, DRC, Eritrea, Tanzania and Kenya) with an attempt to avert the unequal distribution of the Nile waters catapulted by the British in colonial days in favour of Egypt and Sudan.

The agreement was refreshed in April 2010 by all the countries to guarantee amiable redistribution of the Nile waters, but Egypt and Sudan boycotted the talks on grounds that it is non-binding.
Egypt commands over 55 billion square meters of the 84 billion cubic metres annual flow of the Nile waters but is demanding for up to 7 billion square meters, if it is to enter into any agreement with any Nile basin country on the river matters.

However separately, Ahmed Baha’a El-Din, the Egyptian Nile Water sector chairman, told the Sunday Monitor, that despite the ‘contested’ clauses, there are some unsolved differences with the main Sudan that can’t allow agreement.”

Early this week, the Egyptian media quoted Dr. El-Din telling a Chinese news agency that, “the Entebbe agreement is useless without Egypt and Sudan’s signatures.”
Meanwhile, Egypt has injected another $2 million in the last phase of the bilateral treaty to help fight aquatic weeds and hyacinth, improve landing sites and build more human capacity in marine supervision.

The Egyptian government also donated equipment like bulldozers to upgrade landing sites which were received by Uganda’s Agriculture Minister Tress Bucyanayandi who praised the unwavering relations between the two countries.