Agreement on new Nile River treaty foreseen

Officials of the 10-nation Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) anticipate an agreement will be reached soon on a new treaty for long-term development and management of Africa’s Nile River.

The rapidly growing sub-Saharan nations dislike a colonial-era pact between Egypt and Great Britain, which then ruled the areas of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. That treaty gave effective control of the 6,741-kilometer Nile and its African origins to Egyptian users far downstream.

For its part, Egypt has long challenged any initiative that would impede the flow of the Nile. But thanks to a process of dialogue begun in the late 1990s governments now realize their people will benefit more from cross-border ventures on watershed management than from simply haggling about the size of their quota of Nile water.

Kenya Water and Irrigation Minister Mutua Katuku said a new treaty is expected to be signed soon, establishing a commission to regulate the usage of the river.

NBI Executive Director Audace Ndayizeye said the initiative is a comprehensive and integrated approach addressing the basin’s principal challenges, poverty, infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

NBI represents Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Members have discussed building a water infrastructure system for East Africa that would provide irrigation systems, joint hydroelectric production, and early warning systems for floods.

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