February 23, 2014

Ethiopia, Egypt Disagree Over R.Nile

murchison-falls11There will be no need for another assessment study on the Nile before construction of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, Alemayehu Tegenu the Ethiopia Minister for Water, irrigation and Energy says.

The statement comes despite an escalated campaign by the Egyptian government against the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under its current specifications to protect Egypt’s historic interests in Nile water, following failed technical negotiations with Ethiopia.

The campaign by Egypt aims partly to persuade the international community to reject the dam’s construction because it may lead to further conflict and instability in the Nile Basin, Initial reports indicated.

But Alemayehu Tegenu  explains that the dam construction is designed as per International requirements for equitable and reasonable utilization and it will not make any significant harm to the downstream countries that are opposed to its construction.

Ethiopia hired International experts to carry out a social and economic impact study and the water flow mode of the Nile but Egypt says it was not sufficient.

According to Tegenu, Ethiopia proposed to Egypt the study by hiring International consultants, but they instead hired consultants to put the proposal on the shelf and jeopardise the dam construction.

But Ahmed Abdel Aziz Mostafa the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Uganda says the post-studies were not enough and were missing a lot of facts. He says such a project can endanger not only Egypt but Sudan sources of water.

Mostafa adds that there is need for further scientific studies in order to realize and not lead the area to any dangerous adventures.

The Ambassador says they are now engaged in dialogue with Ethiopia in order for Egypt to provide them with more reasonable solutions which can lead to a win-win solution for all.

The Nile Basin covers an area of 3.18 million square kilometres and shared by 11 countries. These include Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. All these countries are seeking to generate hydro power as a source of energy from the Nile.

Currently before embarking on any project on the Nile, Ambassador Ahmed Abdel Aziz says as a country that is downstream, they still seek for permission from other states and the World Bank.

Since May 20 2010, Egypt declined to sign the Entebbe Accord agreement that would replace a colonial-era law that gave most of the River Nile’s waters to Egypt and Sudan. Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia were the original signatories followed by Burundi n 2011. The Democratic Republic of Congo is yet to sign too.

South Sudan which joined the Nile Basin Initiative in 2012 and current chair is going to ratify the Entebbe Accord. Jemma Nunu Kumba the Nile council of Ministers chairperson from South Sudan says her country’s Council of Minister has already approved it and passed to the National Assembly for ratification.

But the Egyptian Ambassador says they have their differences with the accord and want the rest of the countries to respect their rights and ensure the Entebbe Accord meets International   standards.
State Minister for Water Betty Bigombe says the question of Egypt’s rights does not arise since Egypt is insisting that the other nine countries should honor the 1929 colonial agreement.

Member states of the Nile Basin Initiative yesterday marked the Nile Day in Kampala under the Theme: “National Challenges, Trans-boundary solutions.” The Nile Day is an annual celebration of the establishment of the Nile Basin Imitative on 22nd February 1999 by Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the 11 Nile Basin countries.

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