Entebbe Agreement not binding on Egypt: Minister of irrigation

Ahram Online and MENA, Sunday 16 Jun 2013

Mohamed Bahaa El-Din says Egypt is not bound by the Entebbe Agreement ratified by Ethiopia; affirms Egypt's willing to cooperate on Nile River management

Irrigation minister
Mohamed Bahaa El-Din, President of African Ministers Council on Water, and Egypt's Minister of Water and Irrigation (Photo: AP)

Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohamed Bahaa Al-Din said Sunday that the Entebbe Agreement of the Nile Basin Initiative is not binding on Egypt as Cairo did not sign it.

The minister's statement came on the sidelines of a workshop on managing the Nile water during climate change, and that discussed recent strife between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River development projects.

Ethiopia recently diverted the Blue Nile ahead of building a hydroelectric power dam, planned to be the largest on the continent.

Egypt is concerned that the dam will affect its Nile water shares.

The Ethiopian parliament ratified last Tuesday the Entebbe Agreement, which aims to establish a commission to oversee Nile projects.   

"Egypt will not sign the agreement unless [certain] points of contention are modified," Al-Din said. The points of contention, for Egypt, include that Egypt be given a decision-making position in the proposed Nile River Basin Commission. Also that Egypt be notified before the construction of any project aimed at using Nile River water.

Al-Din voiced the willingness of Egypt to discuss these points of contention. He also emphasised that Egypt is not against developmental projects in Nile Basin countries, citing Egypt's approval of the Bujagali Hydroelectric Power Station in Uganda, after verifying that it will not affect Egypt's share of the Nile.

The Entebbe Agreement is meant to replace the 1929 colonial-era agreement that awarded Egypt and Sudan the majority use of the Nile River.

Ethiopia is one of five countries party to the agreement. The other countries are Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan have indicated their intention to join the agreement.

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