'Nile Basin countries should focus on common interests, not divisions,' Sisi to Nile Basin leaders

Ahram Online , Thursday 22 Jun 2017

Sisi in uganda
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received at the airport in Uganda (Photo:Egyptian presidency)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah called on the leaders of Nile Basin countries on Thursday to adopt a joint view based on the common interests of their nations instead of divisions.

In his speech at the Nile Basin summit currently held in Uganda, President El-Sisi said that the countries of the Nile Basin share a common interest, which is to maximise the benefits from natural and human resources.

"Our common interests... are greater and more important than any differences that have tied us down for decades," El-Sisi said, adding that now more than ever, Nile Basin countries need to cooperate to achieve sustainable development.

According to the Egyptian State Information Service, the "historic" summit is the "first gathering of all Nile Basin States to discuss cooperation in many development fields."

Egypt withdrew from Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) membership in 2010 over disagreements about the Cooperative Framework Agreement, which sets out the principles and obligations of member states regarding the use of the Nile Basin's water resources.

Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the agreement, citing concerns about provisions concerning the reallocation of water quotas, among other issues.

Historic water-sharing pacts between Egypt and Sudan continue to govern the distribution of Nile water between the two countries. 

The Egyptian president said in his speech that Egyptians depend on the Nile for nearly 96 percent of their water, and that with the growing population, the water share per capita has dropped to 640 cubic metres per year.

The president added that Egypt is suffering from a water deficit of about 21.5 billion cubic metres per year.

"Egypt is filling this gap through the efficient use of water recycling, which covers up to 80 percent [of the deficit], which is considered the highest rate in the world," he said.

"This is what makes the Egyptian people cautious of anything that would negative affect Egypt's water security," he added.  

El-Sisi also spoke of the importance of using modern scientific methods to manage water resources in a sustainable way.

President El-Sisi arrived in Uganda earlier on Thursday, where he discussed with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni bilateral relations and cooperation, according to the Egyptian presidency.

Uganda is the current chair of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the NBI.

The NBI comprises 10 permanent members: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.

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