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The East African : Oct 20th 2014
The EastAfrican BUSINESS OCTOBER 18-24,2014 Nile Basin ≥isks wate≥ conflict as states dithe≥ ove≥ ≥atifying CFA By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican THE NILE Basin is at risk of facing water conflicts if riparian states continue to dither over the ratification of the Co-operative Framework Agreement. The CFAis supposed to come up with a new arrangement on the use of the waters of Africa’s longest river. Participants from the 10 Nile Basin countries who attended the Fourth Nile Basin Development Forum in Nairobi recently, expressed concern that the ratification was taking too long, creating avenues for tension and water conflicts. The accord, which was opened EFFECTS OF BAN The ban would leave200,000 fishermen without a livelihood for half the year and put $325 million in export earnings at risk. It could also force hundreds of fish processing plants around the lake to review their businesses and affect the nutrition of residents who depend on the Nile perch as a source of protein. EU traders could be forced to look for alternative year-round markets. 2013, some 26,100 tonnes of Nile perch fillets were exported to the EU from the region. Tanzania was the main export- er with 12,400 tonnes followed by Uganda with 10,800 tonnes and Kenya with 2,900 tonnes. Tanzania earned $325 million from the exports last year. According to LVFO, the growth in commercial importance of tilapia and Nile perch has increased Pressure on fish stocks. About 60 per cent of the original fish species are feared to have become extinct. illegal fishing for signing in 2010 by the intergovernmental body, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), has only been ratified by Ethiopia and Rwanda. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt are yet to ratify the accord. Eritrea is an observer. “We are hoping that co-opera- tion around the Nile will increase security and stability. The key words are equitable and responsible use of the Nile resources. That is the only way we can do this peacefully. Otherwise we are going to be at war because of water,” Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu warned. The dilemma is that the CFA cannot become operational until at least six countries ratify the accord. The majority of the NBI member states consider the agreement critical in the equitable and wise use of the Nile waters, which are the lifeline of millions of Africans living both upstream and downstream. The Nile countries have a com- bined population of 437 million and more than half of the inhabitants live along the Nile River and its tributaries. As the demand for water increases, the upstream countries find themselves in a difficult position operating under the colonial agreements. The other challenge facing NBI is bringing Egypt on board after Cairo decided to boycott future negotiations in protest against the CFA, which it says does not guarantee the country adequate water security. Sudan’s Minister for Water and Electricity, Mutaz Salim, who is also the chair of the Nile Council of Ministers, urged Egypt to join the rest of the team in finding solutions to the challenges bedevilling the Nile Basin. “The objective of the Nile Basin Initiative is to have an all inclusive negotiation,” said the Sudanese Minister. Egypt has in the past warned A fishmonger with Tilapia for sale in Kenya. The cost of Nile Perch has risen due to demand in Europe Picture: File it will leave its options open if it feels the country’s water security is threatened, a statement some participants in the Nairobi conference feared could include military intervention. Early in the year, Egypt’s former ambassador to Ethiopia, Robert 43 Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile. Picture: File The objective of the Nile Basin Initiative is to have an all inclusive negotiation.” Sudan’s Minister for Water and Electricity, Mutaz Salim Iskandar, told the Cairo Post that the Egyptian government rejects the treaty, as it does not ensure Egypt’s historic share of the Nile water. “ … It cannot gain legitimacy; it ignores the legal rights of the other countries,” Mr Iskandar said. CFA is an outcome of long nego- tiations to replace the 1929 treaty written by the then colonial master, Britain, which awarded Egypt veto powers over any project involving the Nile by upstream countries. Sudan and Egypt later signed another deal in 1959 dividing the Nile’s waters between them. According to the 1959 treaty be- tween Egypt and Sudan, Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres annually of the Nile, while Sudan is entitled to 18.5 billion cubic metres. The CFA is expected to replace the old agreements by establishing a permanent body the Nile Basin Commission to oversee river management. “We, the emerging countries do not recognise the 1929 and 1954 agreements because that prevented us from using the Nile water resources,” Prof Wakhungu said. The Ethiopian parliament rati- fied the CFA last year amid growing tensions with Egypt over the construction of the Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile. At the time, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi had signed the accord. However, none of them has so far ratified it. Recently, though, Kenya and Tanzania announced their inten- tion to ratify the agreement before the end of the year to help speed up the establishment of the Nile Basin Commission. The Tanzanian Cabinet recently approved the CFA and announced that the document will soon be taken to Parliament for ratification. Last year, Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment, Ephraim Kamuntu, announced that the ratification process was on track. If Tanzania, Burundi, the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda join Ethiopia and Rwanda in ratifying the CFA, then the NBI will be transformed into a Commission with or without Egypt’s signature. According to John Nyaoro, CEO NBI Kenya, Egypt had a problem with Article 14B of the CFA that dwelt on water security. “When CFA negotiations were concluded it was resolved that the article be annexed and resolved later once the Nile Basin Commission is in place,” he said. During the negotiations, the Council of Water Ministers of the Nile Basin was unable to reach an agreement on the wording of Article 14B. The words that were the cause of the disagreement read as follows: “... not to significantly affect the water security of any other Nile Basin state.” However, negotiators from Egypt and Sudan wanted these words to be revised so that they would read: ‘… not to adversely affect the water security and current uses and rights of any other Nile Basin State.” The final document was adopted by seven votes to one in May 2009 by the Nile Council of Ministers during an extraordinary meeting held in Kinshasa. They also agreed that the initial wording of Article 14B should be included in the CFA instrument and that any dispute about the phrasing should be resolved by the Nile Basin Commission within six months of its establishment.
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