Dispute over Nile water use to be prolonged

Saturday January 27 2018

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. PHOTO | FILE | AFP


Yet-to-be negotiated Article of the Nile Treaty is prolonging the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the use of the river’s waters.

Article 14 (b) of the 2010 Treaty that deals with security of the use of the waters to all the Nile Basin states guarantees historical rights to the use of Nile waters, which Egypt has been pushing in regards to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  

However, Article 14 (b) can only be negotiated under the framework of the Nile River Basin Commission, which is yet to be formed because only three — Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia — out of the minimum six Nile Basin countries have ratified the Nile Basin Co-operative Framework Agreement, 2010.

Kenya, Burundi and Uganda have signed the 2010 Nile Treaty, but are yet to ratify it.

Sudan and Egypt are yet to sign the treaty, with Egypt demanding a guarantee of its historical rights to the use of Nile waters as per the 1929 and 1959 agreements with former colonial power Britain.

Former director of water resources in Kenya, John Nyaoro, who is currently a consultant on international water law and water resources, told The EastAfrican that Egypt’s decision to rely on the international law on common use of resources could drag the dispute longer.


“While this law allows individual countries to use shared resources for their own development, it also requires that any new development does not cause harm to another country,” said Mr Nyaoro.

Egypt wants assurance that the $4.8 billion dam, which is 60 per cent complete, will not affect the 50 billion cubic metres of water the country receives annually.

The biggest differences between the two countries are over the duration of filling up the dam on the Blue Nile, which supplies nearly 80 per cent of Egypt’s water.

Ethiopia says it will take two to three years to fill the dam before the natural flow resumes, while Egypt is pushing for gradual filling of between seven and 10 years.