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Shortage of funds hampers River Nile investment projects

Rusumo River hydro power project will soon generate power to be shared among Rwanda, Burundi and United Republic of Tanzania

Jinja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  Lack of funds in the country and at the transboundary level is hampering attempts to limit fights over River Nile water through development projects. The concern is one of the highlights as countries in the Nile Basin celebrated the annual Nile day held on February 22. 

Ministers and government technocrats from the ten Nile Basin countries raised concern that transboundary investments along the River Nile water resources have either stalled or not going on as planned because of a lack of financial resources. Water and Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary, Alfred Okot Okidi, speaking on behalf of Uganda said the investments would have ensured benefits like food production, energy generation and water security.

“The Nile drops by more than five meters between Lake Victoria and lake Albert representing underestimated capacity of over 4,000 megawatts and at the moment we have developed only 800 and finishing six hundred. The population is growing and this is good for development” said Okidi.

Okidi noted that if countries and donors provided the need funds, the fishing industry within Lake Victoria would be organized to ensure that the resources are better managed to benefit the citizens within the Nile Basin. 

Rwanda’s Minister of the Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said it is critical funds are mobilized for the planned investment to take off. Mujawamariya also the current chairperson of the Nile Council of Ministers said it is crucial that people feel the benefits from Nile Water if they are to guard water and related resources. 

Mujawamariya said water resources need to be equitably and sustainably used adding that it requires joint investments for better impact.  “We all need water to survive, we need energy as a key pillar of economic development. However, we can only benefit equitably and sustainably from the shared River Nile by having a cooperation framework,” she said. 

The theme of Nile day 2021 was ‘Rethinking regional investments in the Nile Basin’. Nile Basin Initiative(NBI) is currently implementing 84 investment projects valued at over USD 6.5 billion.  The funding for investment projects should be provided by the ten countries under the Nile Basin Initiative as well as development partners. 

One of such projects is a Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project under joint development by the Governments of the Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania. The waters of the Nile River are the heart of East Africa, providing a vital source of drinking water, irrigation, fish, hydropower, and transport to 200 million people living in the basin. 

The Nile spans 10 countries – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – making for complex transboundary relations, especially between upstream and downstream countries along the river.



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