‘New Nile agreement is not a settled deal,’ says Egyptian ambassador
Ethiopia has many rivers and enough rainfall and this has to be taken into account when deciding on a new agreement between the Nile basin countries, Tarek A. Ghoneim, Ambassador of Egypt, told Capital in an exclusive interview.
The Egyptian ambassador said this following Capital’s query with regards to the agreement that was signed by five upstream countries of the Nile Basin Cooperative framework, namely Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. Egypt and Sudan have refused to sign.
According to Tarek A. Ghoneim the Nile should be used for the benefit of all, without discarding past agreements. The division of Nile water is currently based on decade-old understandings between Egypt and Britain and Egypt and Sudan dating back to 1929 and 1959, basically excluding all upstream countries.
“We are pushing for all Nile basin countries to benefit from the Nile, but there are valid past agreements. Egypt is 95 percent dependant on the Nile. Ethiopia on the other hand has many rivers and sufficient rainfall,” the Ambassador explained.
Ethiopia has played a leading role ever since the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in 1999. The Nile Basin Cooperative aims to replace the 1929 and 1959 documents allowing Egypt to use the lion part of water (55.5 cubic metres) and Sudan slightly less (18.5 cubic metres). The new agreement envisages a common vision of sharing water for the benefit of all.
That’s not the case now, says the Egyptian ambassador. “The Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi didn’t sign. That means the dialogue continues. I believe there is a misperception about this issue. We all have to work together to benefit maximally and equally out of the Nile River. There is more room for negotiation until we get a win-win situation out of it.”
Tarek A. Ghoneim regrets that discussion on the ties between Egypt and Ethiopia always focuses on one issue only: the Nile River. The real story is that the countries have a long and deep economic, cultural and social relationship as well, he points out. “We have to reach out to people and tell the truth regarding all this,” he says.
The ambassador therefore strongly argues that the responsible media should publish facts only. “The media in Egypt or here in Ethiopia always give special emphasis on the Nile. They need to write everything about it as if there is no other relation between Egypt and Ethiopia other than the Nile. That attitude must change,” he said.
The full exclusive interview with Ambassador Tarek A. Ghoneim will be published in our next week issue.