Nile River in Aswan, Egypt - Sharaf El Din via Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 18 June 2017: The Nile Basin Summit will be held in mid-June in the Ugandan Capital Kampala in an attempt to resolve the conflict over Entebbe agreement, according to local media.
There is a possibility that Egypt would re-activate its membership of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) after the Egyptian political leadership froze it in 2010.
The 11 Nile Basin countries are Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. The last three are downstream countries, while the rest are upstream.
The summit comes as a result of Uganda’s mediation to bring Nile Basin countries together to the negotiations table to resolve conflicts and to implement pending mutual projects. The conflict over the Entebbe Agreement made donors withdraw from NBI cooperation programs.
Egypt’s decision to freeze its membership came in reaction to the endorsement by six upstream countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, of the Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA), also known as ‘Entebbe Agreement’ without reaching consensus among all Nile Basin countries on debatable articles.
In May 2010, Nile Basin countries signed the Entebbe Agreement in order to replace the 1959 convention that awarded Egypt and Sudan shares of 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic meters per year respectively.
Egypt’s main objection is to Article 14 on water security. It consists of articles 14A and 14B. Article 14A provides that Nile Basin countries agree “to work together to ensure that all states achieve and sustain water security.” Article 14B is about water quotas designated to each country.
Egypt also insists on making NBI decisions by unanimity and not by majority on the grounds that the upstream countries outnumber their downstream counterparts.
The article on prior notification is also debatable as Egypt insists on obliging upstream countries to notify downstream countries of any projects on the Nile in order to assess any potential harmful impact on their interests.
The summit agenda includes principles for administering Nile water, mutual cooperation mechanisms, water loss prevention mechanisms, and resuming cooperation projects.
The presidency issued on Thursday a press release stating that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi affirmed in a phone call with the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Egypt’s keenness to strengthen cooperation with Uganda, current chair of the NBI.
The call included talks over cooperation mechanisms, regional topics, and the upcoming NBI summit.