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Water ministry rejects new Nile agreement

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Treaties ensure Egypt receives 55.5 of the 84bn cubic metres of water that flows through the Nile annually

The Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Baha’a El-Din said on Saturday that Egypt will not be signing the Entebbe agreement with other Nile-Basin countries as the agreement in its current form is not suitable for downstream countries such as Egypt.

According to the State Information Services, the minister told the official Chinese news agency Xinhua that the Entebbe agreement is useless without Egypt and Sudan’s signatures.

China is investing in water development projects across several Nile Basin countries. Baha’a El-Din told China that any water project they fund must not have a negative effect on Egypt.

Historically Egypt has always had the largest share of the Nile water. In 1929 Egypt was ensured the lion’s share of the water by Britain and in 1959 Egypt and Sudan signed an agreement which guaranteed 55.5 billion cubic meters of water to Egypt annually, of the estimated 84 billion cubic metres.

The irrigation ministry spokesperson Khaled Wasif said that Egypt actually needs another 7bn cubic metres to cover a water shortage. The Entebbe agreement, Wasif said, does not touch the issue of water but nevertheless there are three contentious issues which the nations have not been able to resolve .

The first issue surrounds how decisions are made. The upstream nations want decisions to be taken by a majority vote, whereas Egypt is demanding consensus.

Wasif said: “Second, we need everyone to respect previous agreements. We have had our share of the water for thousands of years and we need to respect previous agreements made by Italy, Belgium, England and other countries that occupied Egypt and the Nile Basin countries.”

The third issue raised by Egypt surrounds the construction of water installations along the Nile: “We need to be informed before other nations install any water structure.” Wasif added that Egypt did not have to approve the construction, but it would need to be kept informed in order to determine what effect the construction could have on the water quota.

When the colonial agreement which guaranteed a majority of the water for Egypt was made, Egypt’s population far surpassed that of its upstream neighbours. Now however, countries such as Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rival Egypt’s population, with an estimated 91m and 71m people respectively, although the DRC relies mostly on the Congo River.

Ethiopia, which supplies most of the Nile with its water, is technically not guaranteed any water from the colonial agreements. In an effort to deal with the unequal water distribution, the Nile Water Basin agreement was set up in 1999 by nine of the countries that share the Nile, including Egypt and Sudan. To further combat the monopoly on the water guaranteed by colonial treaties, a new agreement was drawn out in 2010, which Egypt and Sudan have not recognised.

About the author

Luiz Sanchez

Luiz Sanchez

Journalist

Luiz is a Brazilian journalist in Cairo @luizdaVeiga

  • Turkish

    I don’t understand why Egyptians ignore the reality? Don’t you know that Nile river belongs to people living upstream nations. The solution is Win-Win cooperation! Which means people living in upstream nations have to benefited from their own natural resources! As you benefit from your agricultural, truism, oil and gas resources. That is the only solution! Why people living for upstream countries pay for water in their own country and people living in Cairo get almost free water? As people living in upstream countries pay for Egypt’s natural resources, you need to pay for their water too

  • Temesgen

    weather you believe or not we are now in 21 century keep that 1929 agreement in museum and show for tourist and make money

  • Daniel

    Dear Minister!

    We Ethiopians said, this 1929 agreement is expired and has to be renewed with the new one that can go with the present situations in all Nile-basin countries. Don’t you mind when 5 million Ethiopians are starving while our country is the water tower of Africa. So please let us use the water with out affecting your needs.

  • Wedi Mekrerit

    why am i not surprised?

    I know Egypt is not going to give up the “old habit” that easy.

    here are the road maps Egypt is trying to follow:

    1) Buy “time” to work on domestic issues.

    2) Reject new nile agreement

    3) make threats against Ethiopia/intimidation

    4) Then try to sabotage Dams in Ethiopia/anything they can get

    5) war? may be through Eritrea? Sudan?
    .
    .
    .
    THEN what? I got no clue!

    Does the Egyptians REALLY think these 1-5 steps will solve the issue?

    Well I guess most will say why not? because they DO NOT know Ethiopians/Africans!

    Here are what every Ethiopian Thinks, we will USE our NILE water for whatever things we want.Whenever we want. It start in our LAND and its 100% ours!

    Our leaders might speak soft/diplomatic words, however the reality is we Ethiopians have lost our patience when it comes to Nile!

    Let alone Egypt a third world country who depend on aid just like us, we have died for years and we will continue to die for our freedom.

    Egypt CAN NOT and WILL NOT tell us what do with our water.

    under the worst case of scenario, I mean Egypt managed to sabotage our Dams and others….

    There is a contingency plan on EVERY Ethiopia and that is:

    DIVERT every drop of water away from Egypt.
    Hold every drop of water within the countless DEEP gorges…

    then we will see if you can sabotage it too.

  • NileDam

    Ethiopia will build the Nile Dam. No turning back. We don’t need Egyptian permission. Period.

    • Girma

      @NileDam , Absolutly right! Not only permission ,we are ready to punish them for any attempt targating GERD severly remebering all their bullsheets to black africans.

  • Ethiopian

    This I the most laughable argument by a senior Egyptian minister post Mubarak era. His wish to continue with colonial agreement that gives the lion share the two downstream country and leave the uppers trepan countries without any choice will be a wrong way to address the issue. I think the time ticking on Egypt to abandon arguing for colonial treaty and better find a harmonious way utilizing the river with all stakeholders. Taking the old ill diplomatic path will take them nowhere. No one will stop the upper stream countries to utilize their resources within their boundary. If Egypt choose to cross this line like they used to….trust me it will be the dumbest diplomatic move of the 21st century.

  • Dr. Reda Sobky

    A significant fraction of the evaporative loss in Lake Nasser can be mitigated by using floating solar panel interposition thus generating electricity, green credits and jobs making the panels in Aswan. Egypt needs to be creative in approaching water use and conservation and energy generation and this kind of project does both while increasing the utilization of the updated High Dam grid. Creative thinking is needed to arrive at a new balance between all the interests involved so that the gifts of the nile are cooperatively developed and shared.

  • Lion of Judah

    Colonial treaty? lol i afraid it has gone with the wind of colonialism itself. come to your senses ppl.

  • Girma

    @Water Minister ,Wasif said: “Second, we need everyone to respect previous agreements. We have had our share of the water for thousands of years and we need to respect previous agreements made by Italy, Belgium, England and other countries that occupied Egypt and the Nile Basin countries.” Mr, You and your contry are continuing to live in history and irrational way of thinking. For the Water ,Why don’t you ask England,Italy and Belgium to help you in providing some 7 bl+ 55BL cupic of water per annum due to th raised water demand and upstream African nations like Ethiopia and Uganda? for your (Egyptians)Irrational,selfish,slavery, primitive and losser mentality, please pray for ‘Modern and rational way of thinking’ as Alah or God may give you. I am excited to see how we ethiopians demolish the ‘legal and big’ Al-Shabab Arab force (Egypt).


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