As you may be aware, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a dialogue forum among the nine Nile riparian states (Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda) for a fair and mutually beneficial use of the Nile river has been going on since 1999. Other similar initiatives have preceded the NBI, but the NBI is the most sustained of these dialogues. It is mainly funded by the World Bank and other external donors.
After 11 years of hard negotiations, five of the nine states have agreed to a draft agreement called the Cooperative Framework Agreement. This agreement is the first major step before the establishment of a permanent Nile River Basin agreement. Two more countries, the DR Congo and Brundi, are expected to sign on to the agreement soon. The remaining two, Egypt and Sudan, are not happy with the draft agreement and have voiced their opposition.
Egypt, however, does not only object to the agreement, she is working very hard to derail the agreement in a last ditch attempt to maintain its obscene monopoly over the use of Nile's water. Here is Egypt's reaction to the signing of the draft agreement:
Responsibility for the Nile issue had been taken from the Irrigation and Foreign ministries and handed over to the National Security Authority headed by Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman when Egyptian diplomatic efforts against the new Nile basin treaty failed, news portal Masrawy reported Wednesday.But all talk from the Egyptian side is not jingoistic. There are some realist Egyptians who recognize that clinging to an unjust 1959 colonial treaty which gives Egypt 87% of the Nile water is plain foolish:
The reason for the handover is the inauguration of the Tana Beles hydropower station and dam in Ethiopia last Friday, the day a new treaty was signed by four Nile basin countries. Egypt insists that projects such as Tana Beles station need to be approved by it first....
Egypt has decided to freeze all forms of bilateral cooperation with the Nile basin countries that signed the agreement regarding river rights, Al-Shorouk newspaper reported Wednesday.
Yet Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies researcher Nabil Abdel-Fatah had criticized the official approach, saying that the Egyptian response to Nile issue has been "slow and lacking in dynamism."When it comes to the equitable use of the waters of the Nile river basin, I believe all Ethiopians should support whatever regime is in charge of Ethiopia so long as that regime jealously guards Ethiopia's national interest. On this particular score, I am of the opinion that the Woyane regime is pursuing Ethiopia's national interest and I, as an avowed opponent of the regime, declare myself to be a Woyane.
He added: "The Egyptian political and diplomatic structure still perceives Africa from a position of superiority; they still see it as the old Africa just after colonialism."
"Egypt must stop perceiving Africa in such a regressive way," he said, "And our dealings with Africa should be revised on a more equitable and developmental level."