In a sudden move, reports came out the two-year old South Sudan government will join the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile Basin Countries, known as the Entebbe agreement. “We joined the Nile Basin Initiative. We are on the way to join the framework agreement, through which Nile Basin countries could discuss the best ways for using water sources,” Paul Mayom, South Sudan’s minister of water resources and irrigation, told a radio station on Monday..
The Entebbe Agreement, was signed by the following countries: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, then on February 28, 2011, Burundi became the sixth signatory.
Egypt, the main contender of such a deal, argues that both the 1959 agreement, as well as another accord signed in 1929 under British rule, stipulate that the approval of all Nile Basin states must be gained before the implementation of any water-utilization projects. Besides, Egyptian officials added that signing of all upstream counties does not affect the legal stance of the downstream countries i.e. Egypt and Sudan.
However, the six countries that signed the Entebbe Agreement rejected such reasoning, and reminded the Egyptians that the 1929 and 1959 agreements were void and invalid because they were written and ratified under British colonialism by colonialists. The recently-revised Entebbe Agreement that was signed on May 4, 2010, was written by native, full-blooded Africans.
For his part, Mayom said that his country doesn’t recognize the 1959 agreement. “We were under control of Sudan, when the agreement was signed. Thus, we couldn’t say anything.”
Egypt, which receives the largest portion of the Nile’s water, has rejected any deals that do not preserve its historic rights. Egypt's share of Nile waters stand at 51 billion square meters annually, according to a deal signed with Sudan on 1959, which gives the latter 18 billion square meters of water per year.
Regarding the move as a show of hostility, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Bahaa el-Din said on Saturday that South Sudan didn't notify Egypt about signing the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile Basin Countries.
However, The minister stated that Egypt prefers bilateral cooperation rather than clashes with Nile Basin Countries, pointing out that upstream countries want Egypt to sign the Entebbe Agreement then negotiate about points of differences, but we are worried about the water security of Egypt.