Tanzania, Egypt meet, agree on commission
By Nsikan Ikpe
Hopes of a peaceful resolution of the lingering crisis surrounding the Nile River and its mutual use by its eleven stakeholder-nations came alive at the weekend as Tanzanian and Eqyptian officials resolved to expedite action on a proposed joint commission.
This is even as Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has confirmed that the delay in establishing the Nile Basin Commission is hampering the implementation of projects in member states.
The idea of a Joint Commission on the River Nile, has been in the pipeline for at least two decades. Some progress seemed to have been recorded in 2010 when Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania ratified the Co-operative Framework Agreement, 2010, that had established the Commission.
Tanzania, which has been experiencing a growth surge in recent years thanks to its increased exploration of intra-regional trade openings within the East African Community, EAC area, is now pushing very strongly for the establishing of the commission, upon which it hopes to build an even stronger growth momentum.
It is in line with this aspiration that Tanzania encouraged the meeting of senior officials from 11 member states of the Nile Basin Initiative to discuss the status of the projects.
At the parley, Tanzania’s Minister for Water, Prof Makame Mbarawa said there are renewed efforts to establish a commission to speed up implementation of development programmes among the Nile Basin member states.
In his remarks, Ethiopian Minister for Water, Energy and Irrigation Seleshi Bekele said that the Nile Basin population is projected to double to one billion in less than two decades.
He equally recommended that member countries should come up with common strategies to prepare for and cope with climate change by putting in place measurement systems, standards and analytical frameworks to monitor, plan and manage the Nile.
It will be recalled that during his visit to Tanzania in August last year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had held talks with Tanzanian President John Magufuli on the question of rights to the use of the Nile’s water.
In a joint communiqué after the visit, both presidents affirmed that their governments were committed to working together on major water projects, irrigation and health sector collaborations.
Germany, through its international development agency, is funding the $6.7 million wetland protection project.
The Construction of the 80-Megawatt Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project is among key projects under the Nile Basin co-operation.
It is shared by Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania even as the project is located on the Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria.
Giving more details on the project, The Rwanda Energy Group said China Geo-Engineering Corporation, Jianxi Water and Hydro Construction Ltd and Austria’s Andritz Hydro will carry out civil, electronic and mechanical works on the power plant, which is expected to be commissioned in 2019.
The development of the Regional Hydroelectric Project was revived in 2006.
The project design is a Run-of-River Development Scheme, which maintains the natural flow of the river and does not significantly modify the natural environment.
The eleven nations that the Nile River spans are Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt.
President Magufuli of Tanzania