Water ministers from Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda are meeting in Khartoum on Monday to discuss the issues raised by Egypt over the new Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) between Nile Basin countries, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said in a statement.
The meeting represents a special committee formed by the Nile Council of Ministers during its 24th annual gathering last July in Entebbe, Uganda, which was attended by Egypt, a source close to the matter told Ahram Online.
The CFA, which has been signed by six Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) members so far, outlines principles, rights and obligations for cooperative management and development of the Nile Basin water resources through a permanent institutional mechanism.
“As a first step they [the four ministers] will meet to discuss the Entebbe recommendations, after which all ministers will meet on a date they will agree upon,” the source said.
The NBI is preparing a delegation to visit Cairo to discuss Egypt’s possible return to the regional grouping after seven years of inactivity, the initiative’s executive director Innocent Ntabana told Ahram Online in January.
The CFA stipulates an equitable and reasonable utilisation of the waters of the River Nile. Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the agreement, citing disagreements over Article 14(b), which requires members “not to significantly affect the water security of any other Nile Basin States.”
Cairo argues that Egypt has historical rights to the Nile that have not been taken into consideration by the CFA, and demands a clear stipulation requiring prior notification from other members about planned measures regarding the Nile.
It was this disagreement over the CFA that led Egypt to suspend its full participation in the Nile Basin Initiative in 2010.