By Emmanuel Ntirenganya
The Federal Republic of Ethiopia will chair both the Nile Council of Ministers and the Nile Technical Advisory Committee of the NBI for the next one year, 2018.
Ethiopia assumed the NBI chairmanship during the 25th Annual Nile Council of Ministers Meeting, held on Thursday, October 12, 2017 in Entebbe, Uganda.
The Council is the highest decision-making organ on all political and development matters relating to the Nile Basin Initiative.
The meeting was attended by Ministers in charge of Water Affairs from Burundi, Sudan and Uganda. Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania sent representatives.
The changes in leadership are in conformity with the NBI tradition of annually rotating the position among Member States, according to a statement released from the meeting.
The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity for Ethiopia, Dr. Eng. Sileshi Bekele will be the new Chairperson of the Nile Council of Ministers, replacing Sam Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment, on that position.
In a statement at the end of the event on behalf of Dr. Bekele, State Minister for Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia, Kebede Gerba said that the 25th Annual meeting of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs addressed strategic issues to advance Nile cooperation as well as operational issues.
Approval of new NBI 10-year strategy
The council approved the new NBI 10-year Strategy, which captures the NBI development goals, considering the prevailing context and challenges in the Nile Basin, and priorities thereof.
These issues have been conceptualized into six goals; namely increasingly hydropower, development and power trade; improving food security; protecting and restoring ecosystems across the basin.
The other goals are improving basin resilience to climate change impacts; strengthening transboundary water governance in the Nile Basin as well as enhancing availability and sustainable management of transboundary water resources of the Nile Basin.
Nile cooperation as a necessity, not a choice
State Minister Gerba said that the River Nile is one of the world’s great assets. As such, cooperation is not a choice, but a necessity, if we are to achieve its sustainable management and development.
“This is important for Member States to jointly address the shared challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation,” he noted.
In this regard, Gerda observed “very fruitful discussions were held regarding Egypt’s resumption of its participation in NBI activities.”
Financial Sustainability of NBI
On financial sustainability of NBI, Gerda noted that countries with outstanding arrears committed themselves to clearing them within the shortest time possible. It was also agreed that country contributions will be made in a timely manner to support the operations of NBI.
Meanwhile, the 5th Biennial Nile Basin Development Forum will be hosted by Rwanda between October 23-25, 2017.
Rwanda will also host the Nile Media Awards ceremony on October 23, 2017 as well as a Strategic Dialogue Forum between NBI and development partners on October 26, 2017.
It was announced that the 26th Annual Nile Council of Ministers Meeting will take place in Ethiopia in 2018.
NBI consist of 11 riparians countries which share River Nile — the World’s longest River with its 6,695 km of length — as their trans-boundary resource, with different and sometimes conflicting interests.
The River has an average annual water discharge of 83 billion cubic metres, as figures from NBI show.
Based on NBI projections, through 2050, the population in the Basin will reach 1 billion inhabitants from the current 220 million and all those people will be needing Nile water resources for their energy, for irrigation in agriculture but also for their domestic, industrial and other uses.
According to experts in hydrology of the Nile, increasing population, which is disproportional with the River water is one of the challenges facing the River, which will result in pressure on its water use.
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