CAIRO: Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are expected to sign the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement that Egypt and Sudan are opposed to and have refused to recognize.
DRC and Burundi are the last two countries remaining yet to sign the new treaty after Kenya signed up to the agreement a few weeks after it was first penned by Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda May 14.
With the DRC and Burundi on board, it would mean all the Nile Basin countries aside from Egypt and Sudan — who oppose the new treaty — have signed the new agreement which calls for more equitable sharing rights amongst the basin countries.
Since the treaty has been signed, Egypt has been making conciliatory advances towards Nile basin countries in an effort to stem the new initiative, promising more cooperation on water development projects in the Nile basin countries.
International relations expert Emad Gad from Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt that the time for action on Egypt’s part had passed, and that things should have been done much sooner.
“Egypt is starting to act after it is too late,” he said. “They could have attempted this cooperation much earlier. You’re doing it now after the agreement has been signed. Your position is weaker and your intentions are doubted.”
Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga was in Uganda Saturday to meet with President Yoweri Museveni to discuss irrigation and development projects in the country.
The Ugandan President said that his country needed water for irrigation and faced an electricity shortage while Aboul Naga indicated Egypt’s willingness to assist with hydroelectric power development.
Both Egypt and Sudan have dismissed the new treaty, stating they had no intention of recognizing it and that since they had not signed on, it was not a binding treaty.
Egypt and Sudan have the lion’s share of Nile water according to a treaty signed with the British in 1929, a treaty that was later revised in 1959. The other Nile basin countries have since gained independence and are calling for more equitable rights in the water-sharing agreement.
Under the 1929 treaty, Egypt and Sudan have the right of use of 87 percent of Nile water, which is around 74 billion cubic meters, 55.5 billion for Egypt and18.5 for Sudan.
Egypt and Sudan also have the right of approval on any irrigation projects along the river that may affect their share of the Nile’s water. It is this clause that proved a sticking point at recent talks for the Nile Basin Initiative held in Sharm El-Sheikh.
In 1999, the Nile Basin Initiative began in order to renegotiate the water rights of the Nile basin countries, but more than a decade on little headway had been made which resulted in the other seven riparian countries signing a separate treaty.
“These countries would continue to agitate for their water rights, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan,” Gad said.
“They will continue on their path. You cannot do much when seven out of the nine countries have signed the agreement,” he said. “There is no other solution but dialogue; look into their demands and compromise.”