By Jessica A Badebye
Leaders of the Nile basin states have once again failed to sign a deal giving no position on the current impasse over management and development of the shared Nile river water resources.This comes after the recently concluded summit chaired by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at Entebbe State House Uganda this week. The summit for the first time brought together all countries along the river Nile, to discuss the protection and preservation of the Nile waters. The countries include Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and DR Congo, The Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt.
The summit sought to find a lasting solution of the issues surrounding The Entebbe Agreement also referred to as Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that was signed in Uganda on sharing and use of the Nile waters. The CFA was signed by seven countries of the Nile Basin countries including, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and DR Congo 2010. Egypt and Sudan are not party to the agreement, because they disagreed over Article 14(b) which requires members “not to significantly affect the water security of any other Nile Basin States.” This means upstream countries including Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan cannot undertake any activities like irrigation or dam construction, which could significantly affect Egypt and Sudan’s water quotas. According to the historical treaties signed in 1959, Egypt has the right to a water share of 55.5 billion cubic metres a year out of the river’s total flow of about 84 billion cubic metres while Sudan has the rest. The agreement however allows upstream countries to undertake these activities after consultation with the other beneficiaries of the river.
What is peculiar is that the summit brought together Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The duo have had a prolonged dispute over the shared waters especially when Ethiopia built a mega hydroelectric power dam on the Blue Nile in addition to ratification of the CFA treaty, which is seeking to replace colonial-era agreements granting Egypt and Sudan the largest share of the Nile’s water, but also tremendously strips Egypt of its right to the lion’s share of the Nile waters which escalated tension between the countries. During the summit, President Museveni the current chairperson warned his counterparts that parochial argument would not benefit Nile basin countries and called on them to engage in strategic level discussions which will benefit all parties. “If you start from the parochial point of what Uganda alone stands to benefit without knowing that Uganda’s prosperity depends on others, then you will lose out,” Museveni said.