AFRICANGLOBE – Egypt has not yet consented to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam despite President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signing a tripartite agreement with Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile Waters.
Egyptian ambassador to Kenya Mahmoud Ali Jalaat said in an exclusive interview that the agreement signed in Khartoum on March 23 between President al-Sisi, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was simply a declaration of principles based on good faith, “out of the desire by Cairo to positively engage the Nile Basin countries.”
The sticky issues remain. The duration of filling up the dam on the Blue Nile, which supplies 80 per cent of Egyptian waters, is still in contention.
Cairo also wants the Nile Basin countries to amend the Nile Basin Co-operative Framework Agreement signed in Entebbe in 2011 to recognise Egypt’s unique dependency on the Nile.
“This does not mean that we have agreed on the Renaissance Dam, which is subject to reaching a comprehensive agreement of the Nile Basin Initiative involving all Nile Basin countries. Our concern is the amount of time it will take to fill the dam. While Ethiopia is talking of two to three years, we are asking for seven years and above, because we are likely to suffer,” said Mr Jalaat.
The ambassador said that at the time of the 1929 agreement — which gave Egypt exclusive control of Nile waters — the country had a population of only 15 million. Now, the population has risen to 90 million, yet the country is still getting the same 50 billion cubic metres.
Egypt says that the new Nile Treaty must take into account population increase and demands.
“Our concern is Article 14 (b) of the Nile Basin Co-operative Framework Agreement. If we can open negotiations on this agreement to guarantee our historical rights to the use of Nile waters. This article says that riparian states must not significantly affect the water security of any other Nile Basin state, but we want this amended to expressly mention Egypt’s historical rights. Egypt started the Nile Basin Initiative in 1999 to allow for co-operation among the Nile Basin countries,” the envoy said.
By: Fred Oluochi
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