Home | News    Friday 4 June 2004

Egypt says the Nile will meet its water needs until 2017

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CAIRO, Egypt, June 04, 2004 (AP) — The Nile will satisfy Egypt’s need for water until 2017, the country’s minister of irrigation and water resources said in remarks published Friday.

Mahmoud Abu-Zeid didn’t say what Egypt will do after that, but he told the country’s leading pro-government newspaper Al-Ahram that Egypt was not in conflict with the other nine states of the Nile basin.

"We have no problems with any of the basin countries," Abu-Zeid said, "our relations with them are excellent."

However, tensions are known to exist. Tanzania, which forms the southern shore of Lake Victoria -where the White Nile begins, has never recognized the 1929 Nile Basin Treaty since it gained independence in 1961. And legislators in Kenya, which forms part of the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, have called for the treaty’s renegotiation.

Egypt has repeatedly said it is opposed to any reduction of its share of Nile water, regarding the world’s longest river as its lifeline. The average annual rainfall in Egypt is only 7.6 centimeters.

Egyptian officials are taking part in negotiations for a new agreement to share the water. The talks, which began in December, are designed to produce "a new legal framework," according to Meraji Msuya, the head of the Nile Basin Initiative, which is based in the Ugandan town of Entebbe.

In the interview, Abu-Zeid did not speak about what might emerge from the talks.

"Egypt will not face any crises or water shortages before 2017," he said.

Experts have warned that Africa could face water wars in the future if the continent’s rivers aren’t properly shared.

The Nile Basin supplies water to about 300 million people, 70 million of whom are Egyptians.

The other nine riparian states are Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan , Tanzania and Uganda.

The White Nile joins the Blue Nile in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The Blue Nile begins at a spring in western Ethiopia. From Khartoum, the Nile flows through northern Sudan and Egypt until it empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

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