Ethiopia has taken over leadership of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) for the next one year, filling the rotational position that is shared by member countries of the Nile Basin.
The new chair of Nile-COM is Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water, Irrigation and Electricity, who takes over from Uganda’s Water and Environment Minister Sam Cheptoris.
The changes announced at the end of the 25th annual Nile Council of Ministers meeting held in Entebbe, on October 13, also mean Ethiopia will now chair the Nile Technical Advisory Committee of the Nile Basin Initiative for the next one year.
Nile-COM is the highest decision-making organ on political and development matters relating to the Nile Basin Initiative.
Mr Cheptoris said the meeting also approved NBI’s 10-year development strategy.
Key components are the need to increase hydropower development and power trade among countries, improve food security, protect and restore water-related ecosystems and address climate change and sustainable management of water resources of the River Nile.
He added that members also agreed to continue negotiations with Egypt to resume its participation in activities pertaining to the Nile.
Egypt wants to retain its historical rights over the use of the river Nile waters and has rejected some of the clauses in the 2010 Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA), which stipulates among other things the fair use and distribution of the Nile water by all riparian countries.
Egypt says this poses a threat to the country’s water security.
Under two colonial-era agreements signed in 1929 and 1959 between Britain, Egypt and Sudan, countries in the Nile Basin are required to seek permission from Cairo before embarking on any large-scale projects that would affect the level and flow of the river.