Nile EgyptSouth Sudan is set to sign an agreement that would replace a colonial-era law that gave most of the River Nile’s waters to Egypt and Sudan, local media have reported.

The signing of the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile Basin countries, sometimes known as the Entebbe agreement, is likely to be signed and ratified at the Nile Water Summit in Juba on Thursday.

Paul Mayom Akec, South Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, said earlier in the week that the signing of the agreement was “inevitable”.

“The process of joining the agreement has started at all levels of the state apparatus in South Sudan,” Akec stated in a press conference on Wednesday.

Akec said South Sudan would implement the agreement as soon as parliament ratifies it.

If signed, South Sudan will be the seventh riparian country to sign the agreement on sharing the Nile waters.

Six other countries have already signed the agreement: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi.

 Prosperity and welfare

Akec said South Sudan would benefit from the agreement by using the Nile River water to construct projects that will bring “prosperity and welfare to its citizens”.

Akec’s statement comes after Mohamed Bahaa al-Din, the Egyptian minister of water and irrigation, said that the agreement was not binding on Egypt, unless and until it became a signatory.

Egypt will only sign the agreement once they were able to settle a few points of contention, al-Din said.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian and Ethiopian foreign ministers met in Addis Ababa to discuss their recent row over a hydroelectric dam being constructed by Ethiopia.

The countries have been embroiled in a heated dispute after Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile River last month for the construction of the 6,000 megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam.

About 86 percent of Nile water flowing to Egypt originates from the Blue Nile out of Ethiopia, and Cairo has said the construction of the dam is a security concern

In a joined statement, the Ethiopian and Egyptian foreign ministers decided on another round of talks between ministers and experts in a few weeks to further discuss the dam’s effect, if any, on Egypt’s Nile water sharing.

The 1929 Nile Water agreement gave Egypt 66 percent control over the general management and usage of the Nile waters.

Egypt’s subsequent deal with Sudan in 1959 divided the Nile waters between the two countries with Egypt entitled to 55.5bn cubic metres of a total of 74bn after evaporation.

This, however, is being opposed by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) member countries and, according to the controversial treaty, Ethiopia will be able to build developmental projects along the Nile without prior consent from Egypt.

Established in 1999, the NBI serves as a forum through which member state seeks to develop the River Nile in a cooperative manner, share substantial socio-economic benefits and promote regional peace and security.

Source: al-Jazeera

ETHIOPIA URGES NILE NATIONS TO DEAL OPPOSED BY EGYPT

Ethiopia used a regional meeting Thursday aimed to promote cooperation over the Nile river to urge other nations to ratify a controversial water deal fiercely opposed by Egypt.

Addressing water ministers and officials from the 10-nation Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu challenged Egypt’s historical majority control usage of the river water.

“We will not allow a single country to have full control over our shared resources,” Alemayehu said, speaking at the annual NBI conference held in Juba, the capital of its newest member South Sudan.

The countries have been embroiled in a heated row after Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile River last month for the construction of the 6,000 megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam, sparking concern in Cairo about the impact on downstream water levels.

Ethiopia’s parliament last week was the first to ratify the NBI’s Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), a deal that replaces a colonial-era agreement that granted Egypt and Sudan the majority of water rights.

It allows upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt’s approval.

“It is therefore my duty to call on all countries of the basin to finalise the process of ratification as soon as possible,” Alemayehu said, adding it was a “very critical time in the history of the Nile basin.”

Egypt and Sudan have not signed the agreement.

But in addition to Ethiopia, five other upstream nations have signed –Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Democratic Republic of Congo and newly independent South Sudan have said they also would like to sign, although the deadline to ink the CFA deal expired in 2011.

The deal would come into effect once ratified by six states, but it is not clear how it would impact those states who choose to remain outside.

Ethiopia is building the $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) Grand Renaissance Dam in order to generate electricity, including for export to neighbouring countries.

Ethiopia insists it will not hamper downstream flows.

It is set to become Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam, with completion earmarked for 2017, and is being funded entirely from internal resources.

Politics over Nile waters are complex, with its basin including 10 countries and the river travelling some 6,695 kilometres (4,160 miles) from headwaters in Rwanda and Burundi to the Mediterranean, according to NBI.

Source : Sapa-AFP