KAMPALA (Reuters) – African countries on the upper reaches of the River Nile plan to push their demand for changes in the allocation of its waters, saying Egypt gets too great a share, a Ugandan minister said.
State Minister for Water Jennifer Namuyangu told Reuters ministers from upstream eastern Africa had agreed to meet in Uganda on Friday.
Egypt, which gets almost all its water needs from the Nile but faces possible shortages by 2017, has angered the upstream states by sticking to colonial-era pacts that guarantee it can use most of the Nile’s flow.
The Nile Basin countries, excluding Egypt and Sudan, will meet in Entebbe to sign a framework agreement reached last year.
“The signing of the agreement will pave way for the opening of the Permanent Nile Commission to be based at Entebbe and this commission actually might help us resolve some of the contentious issues between us and Egypt and Sudan,” Namuyangu said.
All the countries had agreed to all but one of the Cooperative Framework Agreement 39 clauses. Water security was still a problem, she said.
Under a 1929 agreement, brokered on one side by British colonial powers in Africa, Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres a year, the lion’s share of the Nile’s total flow of around 84 billion cubic metres.
But the upstream nations, desperate for development are hoping to break with the past, potentially deepening an already bitter struggle for water resources across the parched region.
“We’ve not been insensitive to Egyptian concerns about water security but what were opposed to is their insistence on maintaining their veto as it is in the colonial agreements,” she said.