EGYPT-Non-committal to Nile riparian outcome

By James Atem Kuir

As riparian states closeddiscussions yesterday, South Sudan was handed the chair of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) with endorsement of all member states except Egypt who neither adopted the agenda of the discussions nor endorsed the outcome of the meetings that have ongoing for the past five days in Juba.

Manawa Peter Gatkuotha the Minister of Water Resource and Irrigation tookoveras chairmanof Nile Basin Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) of the 10-memberbody from Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Mujawamariya Jeane D’aro yesterday.

Nile-COM is the highest governance structure of NBI made up of ministers responsible for water affairsfrom each member state.  The Nile Basin states include Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, DR Congo and Tanzania.

“As South Sudan begin its term at the helm of the Nile Basin governance structure, we look forward to this role and specific responsibility. Furthermore, as has been the practice, we will not walk alone but instead take this journey hand in hand with the strategic guidance and support from other ministers in charge of water affairs in the basin zone,” remarked Minister Manawa Peter during the meeting at Palm Africa Hotel .

Egypt which issuffering significant water distress hasbeen embroiled in dispute with Ethiopia over filling of its giant dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) fearing it could reduce water supply to the northern African country.

Egyptian representative to the Nile-COM meeting, Dr. Mamdouh Ahmed Antar, Chairman of Nile Water Sector told the rest of the NBI member countries that: “I would like to confirm that in this meeting, Egypt reserves its position during the previous meeting regarding the agenda, the discussions and the outcomes of the Nile-COM meetings. Accordingly, we will not be able to adopt the agenda of this meeting and its outcomes.”

“I wish that the meeting could bring about shift in our willingness to understand each other’s concerns and witness a milestone narrowing our gaps that for years hindered the endeavors of overcoming our differences,” he added.

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