Meles Zenawi says ’Win-win’ approach only solution to Nile waters issue

PM Meles Zenawi
PM Meles Zenawi

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said that Nile basin countries need to seek a “win–win” approach to resolve differences regarding the utilization of the Nile waters resources and if the equitable sharing of the Nile waters is to be brought about.

In an interview with Egyptian television, the Ethiopian premier stressed that the only solution to the Nile water sharing issue was one that satisfied all parties and takes into account their interests without prejudice against any country.

Zenawi said that the seven upper riparian countries have no agenda of benefiting themselves at the expense of Egypt and Sudan.

After almost a decade-long series discussions among the Nile basin states, a cooperation framework agreement was crafted aimed at reallocating water shares.

In mid May, four upstream countries signed the new treaty in the Ugandan town of Entebbe on the equitable sharing of the Nile waters despite strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan who receive the lion’s share of the river waters.

Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania signed the new framework then while Kenya later joined the treaty. Two more are expected to join.

The Prime Minister said that Ethiopia’s signature on the proposed framework agreement could be read in two ways.

“First it is a reflection of the upper riparian countries desire and commitment to a win-win alternative; and a reflection of the upper riparian countries dissatisfaction with the status quo”

He noted that all parties could meet their needs from Nile water if irrigation efficiency was increased by ten percent.

Video: Meles Zenawi on sharing th Nile with Egypt and other Nile basin countries.

Meles Zenawi stated that Egyptian-Ethiopian relations were strong and rooted in a long history of cooperation, adding, “Nothing can come between the two countries.”

He went on to say that the relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia is like a marriage in which divorce is unthinkable, indicating that while at times the relationship may be beset by tension, it is always strong.

When asked if upstream states meant to charge Egypt and Sudan for water usage, he stated, “Ethiopia has never considered selling water to anyone. The Nile waters have flowed from Ethiopia to Egypt for millions of years, and we want to use a part of those waters. We won’t sell the water to anyone even if we don’t need it, and we won’t ever ask Egypt to buy it.”

Egypt’s claim to Nile water is based on a 1929 agreement it signed with 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. The major Arab nation which is a country of some 80 million people says if its 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.

ST