AFRICANGLOBE – East African countries are positioning themselves to benefit from irrigation and hydroelectric power projects along the River Nile.
Eleven of 30 of such projects, commissioned under the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), will soon be completed after funding bottlenecks are addressed.
NBI executive director John Nyaoro told reporters that most of the $6 billion projects that have been in development for the past 16 years will be commissioned by 2017.
Mr Nyaoro said that already, projects worth $1.3 billion are at various stages of implementation while 19 others have been lined up for implementation as soon as funds are made available.
The 10 countries sharing the Nile’s waters — Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Burundi — are all involved in the projects.
The ministers in charge of water resources in these countries are working on ways of sourcing funding for the completion of the joint projects that seek to connect countries in the entire basin to clean energy resources for rapid industrialisation.
“One such power connection involves Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan and another connects Ethiopia to Sudan,” said Mr Nyaoro.
The interconnections have been made easier by construction of electricity transmission lines to handle the increased wattage. According to Mr Nyaoro, most of these lines will be commissioned by the end of 2016.
A series of activities have been lined up to celebrate the Nile Basin Initiative.
The initiative came into being on February 22, 1999 and has been expanded in the past 16 years despite funding challenges.
Effects Of Overfishing
There is also a fisheries project that seeks to mitigate the effects of overfishing on Lakes Edward and Albert under the Lakes Edward And Albert Fisheries and Water Resources Management Project funded by the African Development Bank.
“We want to regulate how Uganda and DRC manage the resources in the two lakes for sustainability. The regulations will deal with piracy and other attacks on fishermen,” Mr Nyaoro said. “Communities that live around the rivers that are at the risk of destruction are also being given alternative means of earning a livelihood through beekeeping, fish ponds and dairy farming.”
The NBI is also installing technologies that give early warnings for floods and droughts.
Mutaz Musa Salim, chairman of the Nile Council of Ministers, said all states must make a commitment towards mobilisation of resources to support the joint ventures.
“We still have a gap in funding, since only $1.3 billion of the required $6 billion has been received. This threatens the sustainability of the projects. We must now do more by engaging NBI’s traditional and non-traditional development partners,” said Mr Salim, who is the Sudanese Minister for Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity.
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