No more than financial limitations hinder Ethiopia from using the Nile water, Asfaw Dingamo, Water Resource Minister of Ethiopia, told journalists while expressing his dismay on the current stance of Egypt and Sudan.
Egyptian and Sudanese resistance on the water sharing agreement was first reflected in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Nile Basin Initiative held its meeting this year.
The Nile riparian countries have been negotiating on a new package for well over a decade now. The package, according to Asfaw Dingamo, has 39 articles and 66 sub-articles. All member countries have agreed on all articles with the exception of one contentious article, Article 14b, which refers to water sharing. A proposed article to replace Article 14b, the main bone of contention, has been rejected by Egypt and Sudan, the Minster indicated.
Asfaw Dingamo, who was at the last Nile Basin meeting in Egypt last week (July 27-28), has indicated that, so far, Egypt and Sudan who are determined to obtain a special freedom under the Nile River agreement, have failed to garner support from other member countries. Egypt and Sudan have the most rights over upstream projects on the Nile river under a 1959 agreement. The current bottleneck is over a fair water share agreement for all the Nile Basin member countries.
“The riparian countries, with the exception of Sudan and Egypt, aimed to approve the contentious agreement at the Egypt conference, however, the two countries seriously urged us to extend it (the negotiations) for another six months. The meeting also authorized a technical committee to investigate arguments from both sides. The committee is expected make a recommendation in six months.”
The disappointed minister said that the Ethiopian side has garnered the support of the six riparian countries, thus giving them a majority representation against Egypt and Sudan. According to Mr. Asfaw, Ethiopia is not really bothered by the fact that the two countries are not willing to compromise their stance, because the constraints, afterall, will not stop Ethiopia’s access to the Nile water, Minister Asfaw said.
Ethiopia provides 80% of the Nile’s water resource.