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S. Sudan to utilise Nile River for development projects

June 24, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan says it will use the Nile river’s water for development projects, stressing its need to produce green hydroelectricity to reduce reliance on generators.

Minister of water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akec (ST)

Paul Mayom Akec, the country’s minister of irrigation and water resources, said the country’s generators were environmental hazards as they "emit polluted gas into the air, which is not only dangerous to human health but cause environmental hazard".

The minister said that agricultural demand for water is also increasing.

"Hydro power is the most advanced and economically viable resource of renewable energy for South Sudan", he said, further disclosing the country’s plan to build a dam on the White Nile river.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview on Monday, Akec said the government hopes to finance the dam project through foreign investment.

The dam, according to Akec, will be built in the Fulla-Nimule area of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state and will help create jobs for the local population.

The power generated from the dam, he said, will equally be available to the local people, with additional water to be used for irrigation. The idea, the minister told Sudan Tribune, has been embraced by inhabitants in the area.

Akec, however, stated that the project will not affect the share of the Nile’s water received by Sudan and Egypt, the two downstream countries.

Members of the Nile Basin Initiative recently agreed at a conference held in South Sudan’s capital Juba to work towards the “optimal use of the Nile Water Resources for development projects”.

“It is the right of any country which depends on the Nile’s Water to use it for development projects provided that it does not affect the rights of other users", he said, adding that efforts were underway to reduce poverty and sustainable socio-economic development of the users.

The minister, who currently chairs the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) further noted that his country “sees no negative impact” by the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, only 30kms from the border with Sudan.

Sudan has accepted the findings of an international panel of experts and so has Egypt but only after senior politicians had encouraged the government to take a hostile stance to the dam project.

Addis Ababa has, however, argued that the dam will not effect the flow of the Blue Nile and will benefit neighbouring countries through exported electricity.

“Ethiopia is a member state of the Nile Basin Initiative. It was one of the members which accepted and seriously stressed on the need to respect the right of the other member states which depend or require the use of Nile Water provided that the usage does not affect the other members. We all agreed to an equitable and reasonable share of water resources”, he said.

Last week, South Sudan was the host of this year’s Nile-COM conference; an annual event held on a rotational basis among Nile Basin Initiative countries.

The conference, Akec said, underlined the importance of cooperation as “equal member states” with equal right to the use of Nile’s water resources for sustainable socioeconomic development. He however said no discussions were made on claims that make other member states feel they have the ultimate right to decide on a share the other member states should get from water.

“There was no resolution which gives another member a veto right to a certain share of water resources. There were only six resolutions from the conference. One of the first resolutions was the cooperation between the member states to achieve the shared vision of sustainable socioeconomic development through the equitable utilisation of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources", the minister told Sudan Tribune.

Other issues deliberated upon, he further stressed, were the institutional strength of the Nile Basin Initiative as a strong regional institution offering its member states a platform for dialogue, leadership and technical capacity for basin knowledge and planning, and leadership and technical capacity for the identification and preparation for cooperative water resources management and development.