Egypt, I was, I am, & I will be The Nile…!!!

There is no Egypt without The Nile!!!

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“The Nile would be sufficient to punish you, since God has put in our power its foundation, its outlets and its increase and that we can dispose of the same to do you harm.”(King of kings Tekelehymanot I 1706-1708)in Stigma, Muse Tegegne,1993)

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  • The Anglo Italian protocol signed on 15th April 1891
  • The treaty between Britain and Ethiopia of 15th May 1902.
  • The agreement between Britain and the government of the independent state of the Congo signed on 9th of May 1906.
  • The 1901 agreement between Britain and Italy over the use of the River Gash.
  • The Tripartite (Britain-France-Italy) Treaty of December 13, 1906.
  • The 1925 exchange of notes between Britain and Italy concerning Lake Tanner.
  • The agreement between Egypt and Anglo Egyptian Sudan dated 7th May 1992.
  • The 1959 Nile Waters Agreement (between Egypt and Sudan)
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    Egypt and Ethiopia Lock horns over Nile water deal

    MONDAY 19 APRIL 2010 / BY DESALEGN SISAY, DJAMEL BELAYACHI

    Egypt’s fight to hold on to its monopoly over the Nile’s water resource has split the Nile dependent countries into two groups with Sudan supporting the north African country. But notwithstanding the northern African country’s claim to veto power, by virtue of an 80 year old treaty signed with Great Britain, and attempts to get Ethiopia, which leads the upper riparian countries, to soften its position, Ethiopian Water Resource Minister has announced that the signing of a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that seeks a fairer use of the Nile’s water resource will go ahead, with or without Egypt and Sudan’s agreement.

    httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1A9s1rNqv8

    An Extraordinary Nile Council of Ministers’ Meeting that saw the gathering of all ten Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) member countries last week at Sharm El-Cheikh, in Egypt, failed to produce an agreement over the sharing of the Nile’s resources. Egypt, supported by Sudan, refused to give its stamp of approval to a Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that seeks to develop the Nile river in a cooperative manner and share its resources equally without causing significant harm to other riparian countries. The meeting which assembled both Upper riparian countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Burundi) and lower riparian countries (Egypt, Sudan) revealed the deep fissure that separates the two groups. An agreement signed in 1929 with Great Britain on behalf of its East African colonies, and another in 1959 between Egypt and Sudan allowed Egypt alone to use 55.5 billion cubic meters (87% of the Nile’s flow) and Sudan 18.5 cubic meters of water each year.

    The CFA, which was finalized during a previous meeting in 2009, in Kinshasa, DRC, questions the near monopoly Egypt and Sudan hold over the Nile river. Mohamed Allam, Irrigation Minister of Egypt, had announced, ahead of the Sharm El-Cheikh meeting that his country intended to hold on to every drop of its annual 55.5 billion cubic meter water quota, which represents half of the Nile’s water resource. Among other things, Cairo claims a veto power over all new irrigation projects in NBI member countries, without which, it claims, its “historical right” over the Nile will be undermined.

    Ethiopia, which contributes to 85 per cent of Egypt’s Nile resource and plays a significant role in the negotiations, while enjoying a highly strategic position among the upper riparian countries as a key member, came under scrutiny when the Eastern African country signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), late last year, to establish an Ethiopia-Egypt Council of Commerce with the aim of strengthening economic ties between the two countries. Observers argued that a future shift by Ethiopia on the Nile negotiations was imminent after the Ethiopian Prime Minister indicated, at the signing of the MoU, that the two countries will develop the Nile Basin jointly through the Nile Basin Initiative.

    Hani Raslan, who heads the department for Sudan and Nile Basin countries at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo believes that “after Egypt’s offer of financial assistance and investment, Ethiopia has noticeably moderated its position on water sharing (…) Addis Ababa has even begun to play the role of mediator between Egypt and Sudan and upstream states like Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.”

    thiopia steadfast

    httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KevUnxLGbI

    But, Ethiopia’s Water Resource Minister, Asfaw Dingano, reacting to the impasse told journalists on Friday, April 16, that the seven upper riparian countries will go ahead with the signing of the CFA, set to begin May 14 and remain open for a year, with or without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan. With nearly forty articles established to date within the framework of the Nile Basin Initiative, Egypt and Sudan oppose any agreement that modifies their water quota. According to Asfaw, Egypt, seconded by Sudan, rejected the agreement after citing two articles as being particularly problematic, although they had come to a consensus on the subject during the group’s previous meeting.

    But, Ethiopia’s Water Resource Minister, Asfaw Dingano, reacting to the impasse told journalists on Friday, April 16, that the seven upper riparian countries will go ahead with the signing of the CFA, set to begin May 14 and remain open for a year, with or without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan. With nearly forty articles established to date within the framework of the Nile Basin Initiative, Egypt and Sudan oppose any agreement that modifies their water quota. According to Asfaw, Egypt, seconded by Sudan, rejected the agreement after citing two articles as being particularly problematic, although they had come to a consensus on the subject during the group’s previous meeting.

    According to Hani Raslan, “Egypt has the right to maintain its current share of Nile water under international law.” He further argued in a recent interview on RNW, a Dutch radio, that the upper riparian countries should not reproach Egypt’s position, as the country depends on the Nile for 95 per cent of its water needs, whereas the “upstream countries depend on the river for as little as 5 percent of their water needs.”

    Egypt, which has since the last decade been qualified as a water-scarce country, and Sudan have been consistent in their opposition to all deals that seek to renegotiate the several decades old treaties that give them a lion’s share of the Nile River’s water resource.

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    CountryPopulation 1995 (millions)Population 2025 (millions)GNP per capita 1996 (US $)Population below the poverty line (1US$/day) (PPP) (%)Per capita water availability 1990 (m³)Per capita water availability 2025 (m³)
    Burundi6.413.5170655269
    DRC43.9104.6160359,803139,309
    Egypt62.997.31,0907.61,123630
    Ethiopia55.1126.910033.82,207842
    Kenya28.363.432050.2636235
    Rwanda815.819045.7897306
    Sudan28.158.44,7921,993
    Tanzania29.762.917016.42,9241,025
    Uganda21.348.1300503,7591,437

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    Colonial Treaties Affecting Nile Water Use

    Colonial treaties have resulted in inequitable rights to the use of Nile water between the countries of the Nile Basin.

    • April 15, 1891 – Article III of the Anglo-Italian Protocol. Article III states that “the Italian government engages not to construct on the Atbara River, in view of irrigation, any work which might sensibly modify its flow into the Nile”. The language used in this article was too vague to provide clear property rights or rights to the use of water.
    • May 15, 1902 – Article III of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ethiopia. Article three states “His Majesty the Emperor Menilik II, King of Kings of Ethiopia, engages himself towards the Government of His Britannic Majesty not to construct or allow to be constructed any work across the Blue Nile, Lake Tana, or the Sobat, which would arrest the flow of their waters except in agreement with His Britannic Majesty’s Government and the Government of Sudan” This agreement has become one of the most contested agreements over the use of the Nile waters.
    • May 9, 1906 – Article III of the Agreement between Britain and the Government of the Independent State of the Congo. Article III states “The Government of the independent state of the Congo undertakes not to construct, or allow to be constructed, any work over or near the Semliki or Isango river which would diminish the volume of water entering Lake Albert except in agreement with the Sudanese Government”. Belgium signed this agreement on behalf of the Congo despite the agreement favoring only the downstream users of the Nile waters and restricting the people of the Congo from accessing their part of the Nile.
    • December 13, 1906 – Article 4(a) of the Tripartite Treaty (Britain-France-Italy). Article 4(a) states “To act together… to safeguard; … the interests of Great Britain and Egypt in the Nile Basin, more especially as regards the regulation of the waters of that river and its tributaries (due consideration being paid to local interests) without prejudice to Italian interests”. This treaty, in effect, denied Ethiopia its sovereign right over the use of its own water. Ethiopia has rejected the treaty their military and political power was not sufficient to regain its use of the Nile water.
    • The 1925 exchange of notes between Britain and Italy concerning Lake Tana which states “…Italy recognizes the prior hydraulic rights of Egypt and the Sudan… not to construct on the head waters of the Blue Nile and the White Nile (the Sobat) and their tributaries and effluents any work which might sensibly modify their flow into the main river.” Ethiopia opposed the agreement and notified both parties of its objections:

    “To the Italian government: The fact that you have come to an agreement, and the fact that you have thought it necessary to give us a joint notification of that agreement, make it clear that your intention is to exert pressure, and this in our view, at once raises a previous question. This question which calls for preliminary examination, must therefore be laid before the League of Nations.”

    “To the British government: The British Government has already entered into negotiations with the Ethiopian Government in regard to its proposal, and we had imagined that, whether that proposal was carried into effect or not, the negotiations would have been concluded with us; we would never have suspected that the British Government would come to an agreement with another Government regarding our Lake.”

    • May 7, 1929 – The Agreement between Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. This agreement included:
      • Egypt and Sudan utilize 48 and 4 billion cubic meters of the Nile flow per year, respectively;
      • The flow of the Nile during January 20 to July 15 (dry season) would be reserved for Egypt;
      • Egypt reserves the right to monitor the Nile flow in the upstream countries;
      • Egypt assumed the right to undertake Nile river related projects without the consent of upper riparian states.
      • Egypt assumed the right to veto any construction projects that would affect her interests adversely.

    In effect, this agreement gave Egypt complete control over the Nile during the dry season when water is most needed for agricultural irrigation. It also severely limits the amount of water allotted Sudan and provides no water to any of the other riparian states.

    • The 1959 Nile agreement between the Sudan and Egypt for full control utilization of the Nile waters. This agreement included:
      • The controversy on the quantity of average annual Nile flow was settled and agreed to be about 84 billion cubic meters measured at Aswan High Dam, in Egypt.
      • The agreement allowed the entire average annual flow of the Nile to be shard among the Sudan and Egypt at 18.5 and 55.5 billion cubic meters, respectively.
      • Annual water loss due to evaporation and other factors were agreed to be about 10 billion cubic meters. This quantity would be deducted from the Nile yield before share was assigned to Egypt and Sudan.
      • Sudan, in agreement with Egypt, would construct projects that would enhance the Nile flow by preventing evaporation losses in the Sudd swamps of the White Nile located in the southern Sudan. The cost and benefit of same to be divided equally between them. If claim would come from the remaining riparian countries over the Nile water resource, both the Sudan and Egypt shall, together, handle the claims.
      • If the claim prevails and the Nile water has to be shared with another riparian state, that allocated amount would be deducted from the Sudan’s and Egypt’s and allocations/shares in equal parts of Nile volume measured at Aswan.
      • The agreement granted Egypt the right to constructs the Aswan High Dam that can store the entire annual Nile River flow of a year.
      • It granted the Sudan to construct the Rosaries Dam on the Blue Nile and, to develop other irrigation and hydroelectric power generation until it fully utilizes its Nile share.
      • A Permanent Joint Technical Commission to be established to secure the technical cooperation between them.

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    Storms lie ahead over future of Nile

    Jeevan Vasagar,
    A battle for control over the Nile has broken out between Egypt, which regards the world’s longest river as its lifeblood, and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which complain that they are denied a fair share of its water.

    In the latest escalation in the dispute, which some observers believe could lead to a new conflict in east Africa, Tanzania has announced plans to build a 105-mile pipeline drawing water from Lake Victoria, which feeds the Nile. The project flouts a treaty giving Egypt a right of veto over any work which might threaten the flow of the river.

    The Nile Water Agreement of 1929, granting Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile waters, has been criticised by east African countries as a colonial relic. Under the treaty, Egypt is guaranteed access to 55.5bn cubic metres of water, out of a total of 84bn cubic metres.

    The Egyptian water minister, Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, recently described Kenya’s intention to withdraw from the agreement as an “act of war”. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former secretary-general of the UN, has predicted that the next war in the region will be over water.

    The Nile treaty, which Britain signed on behalf of its east African colonies, forbids any projects that could threaten the volume of water reaching Egypt. The agreement also gives Cairo the right to inspect the entire length of the Nile.

    It has been gravely resented by east African countries since they won their independence. Kenya and Tanzania suffer recurrent droughts caused by inadequate rainfall, deforestation and soil erosion. The proposed Lake Victoria pipeline is expected to benefit more than 400,000 people in towns and villages in the arid north-west of Tanzania.

    “These are people with no water,” said the Tanzanian water minister, Edward Lowasa. “How can we do nothing when we have this lake just sitting there?”

    The Nile, which is over 4,000 miles long, is fed by the White Nile, flowing from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing from Ethiopia.

    An estimated 160 million people in 10 countries depend on the river and its tributaries for their livelihoods. Within the next 25 years, the population in the Nile basin is expected to double, and there is a growing demand to harness the river for agricultural and industrial development.

    The Ugandan commentator Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote recently: “Egypt can’t enjoy the benefits of having access to the sea, while blocking a landlocked country like Uganda from profiting from the fact that it sits at the source of the Nile.”

    While east African countries are eager to make greater use of the river, Egypt fears any threat to its lifeblood. Most of Egypt’s population lives in the Nile valley – on 4% of the country’s land – and any fall in the water level could be disastrous.

    Diplomacy

    The Nile treaty was drawn up at a time when Egypt was a British satellite, regarded as strategically crucial by London because of the Suez canal, which controlled access to India.

    The agreement is now in effect enforced by international donors, who are reluctant to advance funds for major river projects that will upset Egypt, a key Arab ally of the US in the Middle East.

    Sub-Saharan countries cannot match Egypt’s diplomatic clout, but they face a dilemma as a major untapped resource rolls through their territories.

    “We have reached a stage where all the Nile basin countries are confronted by domestic development challenges,” said Halifa Drammeh, a deputy director of the United Nations environment programme. “How many people have access to safe water? How many have access to sanitation?

    “There is a tremendous pressure on these governments to sustain the needs of their populations, and to raise their standard of living.

    “After all, there is nothing we can do in life without water. Wherever there is sharing, there is potential for conflict.”

    Work is due to begin on Tanzania’s pipeline project next month, and it is due to be finished late next year.

    The Tanzanian government has said the pipeline is not intended for irrigation, which requires large quantities of water, but for domestic use and livestock. It will initially benefit more than 400,000 people, but this number is expected to rise above 900,000 in the next two decades.

    Kenya plans a conference of the Nile basin countries in March to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute.

    © 2010 – 2013, Prof. Muse Tegegne. All rights reserved.

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