By Merga Yonas, Reporter
Ethiopia, along with three eastern African countries, signed the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) in Entebbe yesterday.
Officials from Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda signed the deal which took over a decade of discussions to come to fruition despite objections from Egypt and Sudan.
Kenya did not sign the agreement but issued a statement of support.
The new deal calls for experts to determine how to fairly share the Nile’s water resources. It seeks to help replace previous agreements, from 1929 and 1959, that give Egypt and Sudan control over about 90 percent of the Nile’s water.
Egyptian officials reacted to the signing by saying that the deal does not apply to them or to Sudan.
Egypt’s water minister said that Egypt will take legal and diplomatic steps to preserve its water rights.
In a statement, Egypt reiterated that the new agreement does not supersede previous agreements on rights to the Nile’s water. It also said that the Nile provides Egypt with 96 percent of its water, while the other Nile Basin countries rely on the Nile for no more than three percent of their water needs.
Egyptian officials have been concerned that there may not be enough water to sustain the country’s rapidly growing population.
On Thursday, the head of a European Union delegation to Egypt asked the East African nations not to sign the new deal, warning that it would “make the political problems that exist worse.”