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President Sisi explains Egypt’s stand on Nile Basin

Sisi greets Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (right). PHOTO PPU

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi  has revealed that Egypt is suffering from a water deficit of about 21.5 billion cubic metres per year, and is cautious of any agreements related to the River Nile that could affect this supply.

According to AharamOnline, this was the main thrust of President Sisi’s speech Thursday at the Entebbe Nile Basin Summit.

The Egyptian president said in his speech that Egyptians depend on the Nile for nearly 96 percent of their water, and that with the growing population, the water share per capita has dropped to 640 cubic metres per year, reported AharamOnline.

Egypt is therefore suffering from a water deficit of about 21.5 billion cubic metres per year., Sisi reportedly told the summit hosted by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.

“Egypt is filling this gap through the efficient use of water recycling, which covers up to 80 percent (of the deficit), which is considered the highest rate in the world,” Sisi reportedly said.

“This is what makes the Egyptian people cautious of anything that would negative affect Egypt’s water security,” he added.

In his speech, AharamOnline said, President El-Sisi stressed that the countries of the Nile Basin share a common interest, which is to maximise the benefits from natural and human resources. El-Sisi spoke of the importance of using modern scientific methods to manage water resources in a sustainable way.

“Our common interests… are greater and more important than any differences that have tied us down for decades,” El-Sisi said, adding that now more than ever, Nile Basin countries need to cooperate to achieve sustainable development.

Egypt withdrew from Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) membership in 2010 over disagreements about the Cooperative Framework Agreement, which sets out the principles and obligations of member states regarding the use of the Nile Basin’s water resources.

Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the agreement, citing concerns about provisions concerning the reallocation of water quotas, among other issues.

Historic water-sharing pacts between Egypt and Sudan continue to govern the distribution of Nile water between the two countries.

Uganda is the current chair of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the NBI.

The NBI comprises 10 permanent members: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.

***Additional reporting AhramOnline

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