Nile Basin Initiative requests Egypt unfreeze activities

Rana Muhammad Taha
4 Min Read
(AFP Photo)
Nile Basin countries continue to be split over the Entebbe Agreement (AFP Photo)
Nile Basin countries continue to be split over the Entebbe Agreement
(AFP Photo)

The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) called on Egypt on Thursday to unfreeze its activities in the initiative, concluding a meeting of Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) in Khartoum, Sudan.

NBI new chairman, also Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, Mutaz Musa, addressed Egypt’s inactivity within the initiative.

Musa told state-run news agency MENA that Egypt froze its activities four years ago pending the realisation of a solution to certain sticking points.

Sudan also froze its activities in the NBI alongside Egypt in 2010 in protest over the signing of the Cooperative Framework Agreement by five Nile Basin countries. It however resumed its activities and returned to the initiative last year.

Nile Basin countries have been split over the Cooperative Framework Agreement, also known as the Entebbe Agreement, which negatively affects Egypt and Sudan’s current share of Nile water.

“An all-inclusive cooperation remains paramount for optimising basin-wide development,” read a statement released in conclusion of the NBI’s 22nd meeting on Thursday.

Musa addressed the final report released by the International Panel of Experts on the building of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD). The report said that Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have signed the report and its recommendations and are therefore obliged to see them through, reported MENA.

The Sudanese Water Minister noted, however, that the three Nile Basin countries are in disagreement over how to apply the recommendations, rather than the application itself.

The International Panel of Experts was composed of two experts each from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, alongside four international experts.

A dam Ethiopia is currently building on the Blue Nile, a major tributary to the Nile, has been a point of contention between Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt has raised concerns that the dam will have a detrimental effect on its share of Nile water.

The Egyptian delegation to Ethiopia, headed by Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, Hossam El-Din Moghazy, failed to resolve points of contention following talks on the GERD in February.

In March the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its “official stance” on the GERD, adding it was seeking a “win-win” scenario. A compromise would protect Ethiopia’s developmental needs, Sudan’s interests and Egypt’s water security.

In its Thursday statement, the Nile-COM “reiterated [its] commitment to the Nile cooperation as the only way forward to sustainably manage the Nile Basin water resources in the wake of shared risks and challenges”.

A representative of Moghazy, attended Thursday’s meeting, according to the NBI statement.

Egypt’s relations with African countries received a blow following former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July, after which Egypt’s membership to the African Union Peace and Security Council was suspended.

Earlier this week, the AU lifted Egypt’s suspension from the Peace and Security Council (PSC).

The PSC originally suspended Egypt after it deemed Morsi’s ouster as unconstitutional and in violation of the AU Charter.

Founded in 1999, the NBI brings together the ten Nile Basin Countries in an effort to develop the river Nile in a cooperative manner.

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