By SALAH NASRAWI (AP)
CAIRO — Egypt’s state news agency reported Tuesday that 10 African nations have failed to conclude a long delayed new agreement for sharing water from the Nile and will call for closer cooperation instead.
The Nile basin nations have failed for years now to agree on the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement to administer the longest river in the world, which would reduce Egypt’s share of the Nile water.
Egypt has categorically refused to sign the agreement.
Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment Maria Mutagamba, in her opening speech at the meeting in the Sinai resort of Sharm al-Sheikh called on her counterparts to sign the agreement without further delay.
Ahead of the discussions, however, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammed Nasreddin Allam insisted that Egypt would maintain its share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the river — more than half of the Nile’s flow.
Egypt also wants veto power over any new irrigation projects undertaken by the other nine riparian states.
The Sub-Saharan African states have rejected the clause and called for the signing of the agreement.
Egypt’s claim to Nile water is based on a 1929 agreement between Egypt and Great Britain on behalf of Britain’s colonies which gave Egypt the right to most of the more than 100 billion cubic meters of water that reaches the downstream countries annually.
Egypt, a country of some 80 million people says if Egypt’s annual share of Nile water remains at 55.5 billion cubic meters, per capita water availability will stand at around 630 cubic meters in 2025, compared with 1,213 in 1990.
The agreement lays down principles of cooperative water resources management. If signed, the treaty would pave the way for the establishment of a permanent Nile River Basin Commission.
In addition to Egypt the group includes Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, which are calling for new allocations of Nile water to reflect their burgeoning populations and industrial capacity.