Posted Friday, February 24 2012 at 00:00
Water minister’s call for developments on Nile waters contradicts Egypt’s previous stance.
The Nile Basin countries should invest in development projects on the River Nile to benefit their people and those beyond, the Egyptian Water Minister, Mr Hesham Kandilu, has said.
“When you take the example of Bujagali and Kiira power dams which have been set up on this river in Uganda, many of us are benefiting. So let’s make it a point to have more of them set up,” said Mr Kandilu.
He was addressing ministers for water from the Nile Basin countries’ during their conference in Jinja on Wednesday, shortly after the launch of Nile Water Day celebrations at Busoga Square.
The call was a sharp contrast to previous stance that Egypt has projected that any other countries along the Nile should first consult it before any major development that would affect the river’s flow, is made.
A 1959 agreement overseen by colonial power, Britain, gave Egypt an upper hand in the control of the Nile waters, binding both Egypt and Sudan to jointly handle any “adverse” usage by another riparian states.
As a measure to collectively counter Egypt’s “natural claim,” nine riparian states formed the Nile Basin Organisation in 1999, which on Wednesday celebrated 12 years of existence.
The ministers also resolved to adopt population control as a measure to check the pollution and any other human pressure on the Nile.
Ugandan Vice President Edward Sekandi, who presided over the celebrations, challenged the Nile basin member states to guard against environmental degradation as they plan activities on the Nile.
“We should all be concerned with the environment protection on these waters as we push for development to avoid risks associated with its abuse,” Mr Sekandi said.
He appealed for equitable sharing of the benefits from the Nile water to avoid conflicts.
Mr Ssekandi also called for cooperation among member states to ensure collective efforts to protect Nile water.
State Minister for Water and Environment Betty Bigombe represented Uganda. Next year’s celebrations will be held in Ethiopia.