Talks over Nile abort after Egypt, Sudan absence

January 27, 2012 2:07 pm
Water Minister Charity Ngilu/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – Plans to have an Extra Ordinary Nile Council of Ministers meeting to discuss the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) aborted on Friday after Egypt and Sudan failed to attend the gathering in Nairobi.

Only ministers drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan attended the meeting.

“The initial plan was to have an Extra Ordinary Nile Council of Ministers meeting to discuss the CFA. However, the meeting would not take place because Egypt and Sudan were not able to attend,” Water Minister Charity Ngilu said.

The Cooperative Framework Agreement is intended to transform the Nile Basin Initiative into a Permanent Nile River Commission to manage the water resources on behalf of the Nile Basin states.

It will also replace the colonial Nile agreements of 1929 and 1959 that gave Egypt and Sudan the lions share over the use of the waters without consideration of the riparian countries.

The two countries have vehemently opposed the new deal that would have given other Nile Basin countries equal rights to the river’s waters.

Last year, Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited Egypt where he unsuccessfully petitioned the then President Hosni Mubarak to sign the CFA.

Earlier this month, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamal Amr toured Kenya where he met with senior Kenyan officials, including Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. The CFA is likely to have been raised, although there was no mention from either office that the leaders discussed it.

On Friday, Ngilu informed the meeting that she had an informal meeting with Egyptian Minister for Water resources and irrigation with whom they agreed to explore options on the way forward.

“One of the options I have put on the table is that member countries should draw up long term master plans reflecting their water needs that are anchored within the water resources in the Nile basin region,” she said.

“These master plans can be deposited with the relevant international organisations for support,” she added.

The minister said this would guarantee water security for Egypt and Sudan.

The visiting Ministers were forced to change the agenda to focus on achievements made by the Nile Equatorial Lake Subsidiary Action Program (NESLAP), which oversees the implementation of jointly identified projects related to the common use of the Nile Basin water resources.

“The NELSAP program has cumulatively managed to leverage investments amounting to $90 million by utilising $70 million in pre-investment financing,” said Ngilu who is also the outgoing Chair of the Nile Council of Ministers.

There has been controversy over the use of the Nile waters with Egypt, which is one of the largest beneficiaries of the waters refusing to sign the Cooperative Framework agreement.

The Nile River is the world’s longest river flowing 6,700 kilometres through 10 countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt.


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