Ethiopia Accuses Egypt of Stalling Talks on Sharing Nile Water

Blue Nile River
The Blue Nile contributes approximately 80-90% of the Nile River discharge.

By Jason McLure

April 20 (Bloomberg) — Ethiopia accused Egypt of stalling talks aimed at reaching an accord over sharing water from the Nile River.

“Egypt has employed a delaying tactic which has dragged the negotiating process,” Shimeles Kemal, a spokesman for the Ethiopian government, told reporters today in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia and six other downstream countries plan to sign a new accord that will redistribute rights to water from the Nile. Egypt and Sudan, the two-largest consumers of Nile water, have refused.

Egypt warned it would withdraw from the Nile Basin Initiative, a World Bank-funded program aimed at resolving disputes over the river’s water, if the seven downstream states sign the accord, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

Egypt claims 55.5 billion cubic meters (14.5 trillion gallons) of the Nile’s annual flow under a 1959 treaty with Sudan, according to the Web site of Egypt’s State Information Service. That agreement didn’t include Ethiopia, which is the source of about 85 percent of the river’s water, or other downstream states.

Ethiopia will sign the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement with Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda by May 14, said Shimeles. The accord would leave open a controversial provision on water security in the hopes that Sudan and Egypt may be persuaded to return to the talks, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.