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Egypt PM calls Nile file 'national security issue,' urges 'cooperation'

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil tells Shura Council MPs that colonial-era Nile-sharing treaties must be respected, says Egyptian FM would soon be dispatched to Addis Ababa to convey Cairo's position to Ethiopian officials

Ahram Online , Monday 10 Jun 2013
Qandil
Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (Photo: Reuters)
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Speaking before members of the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament) on Monday, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil affirmed that the issue of Egypt's access to Nile water was one of "national security" and "a matter of life and death."

Qandil added that the upriver states of the Nile Basin were entitled to their share of Nile water in accordance with pre-existing agreements. He stressed, however, that Egypt would oppose Ethiopia's hydro-electric Renaissance Dam project if it were found to pose a genuine threat to Egypt's traditional share of river water.

Qandil went on to list the various international and regional water-sharing treaties to which Egypt is signatory, stressing that countries were still expected to abide by them even if they were signed during periods of colonial occupation.

Most of Egypt's annual allotment of Nile water, which – according to a 1959 water-sharing agreement – stands at 55 billion cubic metres, comes from the Blue Nile. The decades-old water-sharing agreement grants Egypt, along with Sudan, the lion's share of Nile water.

In 2010, Egypt and Sudan refused to sign on to the Entebbe Agreement – signed between Ethiopia and five other Nile Basin countries – which sought to reallocate Nile waters on a "more equitable" basis. Signatories argued that the old agreement had been written by colonial powers and unfairly favoured Egypt and Sudan.

"Given the arid nature of its topography, Egypt depends on the Nile for 98 percent of its water needs,” said Qandil. He added that, of the some 1600 billion cubic metres of rain that falls on the Nile Basin annually, only about 84 billion cubic metres – roughly 5 percent – reached Egypt's southern borders.

Qandil went on to assert that Egypt’s traditional 55-billion-cubic-metre share would not be enough to meet Egypt’s needs amid anticipated increases of the national population.

"This confirms the importance of cooperation between the states of the Nile Basin," the prime minister added, stressing that the wise use of water resources would allow for the development of all Nile Basin states.

Qandil also said that Egypt's minister of foreign affairs would soon be visiting Addis Ababa to articulate Egypt's stance on the issue to Ethiopian officials and implement recommendations made by a tripartite commission – consisting of Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives – tasked with studying the dam's effect on downstream states.

Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government, which fears that the project, if completed, could negatively impact the volume of Nile water reaching Egypt.

Ethiopian officials, for their part, have attempted to dispel fears regarding the dam's potential impact on downstream countries, insisting that the project would ultimately benefit all of the riparian states.

According to Egypt's National Planning Institute, Egypt will require an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current annual allotment of 55 billion cubic metres, to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million.

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patkar
11-06-2013 03:06pm
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that was THEN
under colonial rule, it was their best interest to support agriculture benefits for the some 20 mmillions egyptians, in the mean time Ethiopia and Sudan were happily living with their nile water, Nubia lived peacefully and traffic jams were unheard of in Cairo ( bicycles were in fashion in Maadi ).Just a bit of common sense to realise times have changed ! and the upstream countries are too entitled to some water, before you claim it all downstream . call for war , maybe but be aware NOBODY ever got Ethiopia on it's knees ( ask the italians )and anyway you are too far and Sudan and south Sudan are in your way.
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A. Habteyesus
11-06-2013 11:58am
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Colonial Treaties!
Mr. Prime Minster, Colonial treaties only benefited colonialists and their surrogates. They were not meant to include signatories of those treaties except their formal participation; what was expected from them. The only beneficiaries were colonialists. Period. Okay, Emperor Minilik once signed an agreement saying I shall not stop the water because, he knew it is was impractical. Until now, the agreement he signed is still in place. Neither Ethiopia nor other participants were eager to do it. Still today Ethiopia is not eager to stop the Nile water, however is seeking to use it for generation of hydro-electric power.
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MIRAB
11-06-2013 09:11am
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Come to your senses
Mr.Qandil, which agreements are you talking about? The so called 'treaties' you are listing are bound to you and to those who were under colony like you. Ethiopia has never signed any treaty in this regard. Because proudly its people were not colonized by any force. those who tried have got a good leson in Africa. If you lack the history of "uncolonized ETHIOPIA" please ask the Italian invadors who still are telling the story to their children.
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EM
10-06-2013 10:36pm
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Ethiopia Vs. TPLF
Dear Egyptian people: Please make a distinction between the tegre people liberation front [tplf] and its province in the north, and the rest of Ethiopia. The people of Ethiopia have never been consulted about the whole Nile Dam project which has been used by the tplf as a classic diversion from domestic problems to external ones. In the event you were to go to war, please bear in mind this critical point and focus your surgical strike to the very region where tplf has had its roots. Thanks, EM
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robel
10-06-2013 08:47pm
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Show me the treaty
Did you consult Ethiopia when you made the 1959 treaty? I want to see if Ethiopia has agreed and sign that treaty! So the treaty only belongs to egypt and sudan... may be it is dealing with another nile that originates in Darfur (better to check the document)?
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Abe
10-06-2013 06:22pm
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Egypt
Ethiopia was not part of the brutal british colony, any agreements without the consent of Ethiopia will not have legal basis. By the way, Does the agreement allow you to take the ethiopian soil carried by Nile or you are obliged to return it with a convoy? Dear Egyprian brothers imagine about your future, make sure that you have appropriate family planning, irrigation system, and reduce your dependency on river nile (find other sources of water). The only way to proceed is to agree and share!
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sinte
10-06-2013 05:54pm
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equiteable share
we have to use the water equitable the so called colonial treaty is null and void . ethiopia was not signatory on the colonial treaty . there for it is not binding on us.
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