Home | News    Tuesday 16 March 2004

Nations south of Egypt and Sudan want to have greater use of the Nile

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Tim Cocks,The Christian Science Monitor

ENTEBBE, UGANDA, March 16, 2004 — It’s a 4,160-mile lifeline for the countries that border it. But intense negotiations went on last week here in an effort to avert potential conflicts over the use of the Nile River between the 10 African countries that share it and its tributaries. Disagreements over competing projects for the Nile waters, some experts say, threaten to destabilize this already volatile region.

To flesh out a treaty regulating use of the river’s waters, a high-level team of lawyers and technical experts representing each state held talks last week in Entebbe, Uganda, on the shores of Lake Victoria, which feeds into the world’s longest river.

Delegates at the highly secretive conference - closed off to the press by gun-toting security guards - say they are confident an agreement can be reached on the sharing of the river and warn that such an agreement will be vital to avert clashes over an increasingly scarce resource.

"This agreement will be vital to the security and peace of the region," says Sirajuddin Hamid Yousef, the Sudanese ambassador to Uganda and one of the delegates. "Modern security is no longer just about interstate relations - it is also about equitable sharing and preservation of our environment."

The talks were organized by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an intergovernmental body set up as a forum for resolving differences over the use of the river. "The most important thing is that all countries are genuinely ready to hold discussions," says Meraji Msuya, executive director of the NBI. "These are committee experts. Everyone will pitch their interests, but the will to strike an amicable deal is there."

The talks come amid growing tensions between countries in the south part of the Nile Basin, chiefly Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia - who want to use the Nile for large-scale projects - and Egypt and Sudan farther down the river, which flows north to the Mediterranean, that would be affected by such projects.

Like many disagreements in Africa, the tensions are in part a legacy of British colonialism. The 1929 Nile Treaty between Egypt and Britain, whose empire at the time stretched over most of the Nile Basin, forbids any country south of Egypt to reduce the volume of water that reaches Egypt and north Sudan.

"Without the consent of the Egyptian government, no irrigation or hydroelectric works can be established on the tributaries of the Nile or their lakes, if such works can cause a drop in water level harmful to Egypt," the treaty states.

Countries in East Africa say they want to abrogate the treaty that they regard as an outmoded colonial relic and which completely ignores the interests of the other countries in the Basin. But Egypt says any attempt to alter or violate the treaty would be regarded by the well-armed Middle Eastern country as an act of war.

Last month, undeterred, Tanzania launched a $27.6 billion project for drawing drinking water from Lake Victoria in contravention of the treaty that it says is illegal. Kenya, which is short of water, is pushing for the treaty to be revised.

Uganda, meanwhile, wants hydroelectric projects to solve energy shortages. Ethiopia has long desired to build large-scale irrigation projects to counter endemic drought, which has left 13 million people suffering from famine. In 1980, Egypt threatened war with Ethiopia after Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam opposed attempts by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to divert waters to the Sinai Desert. "Irrigation is something we must reach an agreement about," says Mr. Yousef, "because it drains a lot, and maintaining a constant flow of water is very important. People will die without it."

Egypt is the country with most at stake in the negotiations as the arid country has virtually no other source of fresh water. But other countries argue that Egypt and Sudan are already making use of the Nile for commercial purposes, such as water exports and cash crops grown on the banks. Egyptian officials at the conference declined to comment on the discussions.

Patrick Kahanjira, Uganda’s chief of water development, says, "We are going through a slow process of negotiation. and of course these don’t start where everything is agreed."

The 10 countries - Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Tanzania - were to meet Monday in Kenya to look at joint development projects.

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article



The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


s
Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Open letter to South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority 2018-09-19 04:05:10 By Telar Ring Deng On the cold morning of 9th September 2018, we were all in utter shock and bewilderment at the very tragic accident that occurred in Eastern Lakes State when a Plane crashed (...)

Sudanese have become prey of mercenaries and Janjawid militias 2018-09-17 09:59:30 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman The Janjaweed bandits have been raging in the land of Darfur in particular and Sudan in general with corruption, havoc and destruction, more than a decade on. The (...)

Khartoum’s peace agreement: A looming disaster 2018-09-15 07:42:34 By Duop Chak Wuol Throughout the South Sudanese peace process, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) has been faced with serious political issues. These issues make it (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


Unity State community in Kenya supports Khartoum peace agreement 2018-08-17 08:33:21 PRESS STATMENT 14th Aug, 2018 Re: We shall Rally behind Khartoum Peace Agreement The Unity State Community Association in Kenya was established in 2010 to organize and mobilize the people of (...)

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)

Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan 2018-04-22 10:01:20 UN Secretary-General, New York African Union Commission, Addis Ababa UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.