OpEd, Politics

The equitable use of the Nile comes with ratification of the Cooperative Framework Agreement

By Malek Arol Dhieu


The solutions we go and fetch from the European Union, United Nations, and other continental organizations are in Africa’s African Union. It looks so awkward for one to have his own umbrella, but he leaves it, goes, and lodges under the umbrella of the grandson of his grandfather’s enemy. Was it not in the 1960s that most of the African countries became independent from the same unions we today seek support from? How far is it that Africans are forgetting?

I hold the view that if we laugh with the descendants of colonialists, we laugh not because we are at peace with them but because teeth are bones. Europe is a continent, just like Africa. The European Union and the African Union are two different unions belonging to two different continents. Why does the African Union underrate its capability, as can be evidenced by its silence on various affairs of development in Africa?

Of all the agenda items for development, the Nile occupies a larger portion of the pie chart for development. If its development runs through 11 countries, how many countries are neighboring these 11 countries? So, it is the whole of Africa that the Nile is going to light up in the case of electricity and provide food and job opportunities in the case of agriculture, among other benefits of great importance to Africa.

The 10 riparian states have come up with the Cooperative Framework Agreement, which should be signed and ratified by all 10 states, but unfortunately, only 6 countries have signed it. These include Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda. Of the six countries that have signed it, only Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda have ratified the agreement. The good news is that only two countries are required to ratify so that the agreement comes into force, but the tragedy is that no country is seen taking a step towards ratification.

Where are South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt, and the DR Congo? Although Sudan and Egypt delay their participation in the Nile Basin Initiatives on account that they are the superpowers of the Nile, what are South Sudan and DR Congo doing? This is sad. This is very sad. South Sudan and the DR Congo should both sign and ratify the agreement so that it comes into force.

The Cooperative Framework Agreement applies to the use, development, protection, conservation, and management of the Nile River Basin and its resources and establishes an institutional mechanism for cooperation among the Nile Basin States. This treaty intends to establish principles, rights, and obligations to ensure long-term and sustainable development and management of the shared Nile waters. So, the countries in the process of signing and ratifying should not think of any present or future harm.

With the recent Nile Basin Development Forum hosted in Uganda, the major challenges were the slow ratification of the Cooperative Framework Agreement and the sit-back of Egypt and Sudan in all the projects pioneered by countries other than them. This was stressed much by many delegates sent to the forum, and fortunately, the Guest of Honor, the Prime Minister of Uganda, who was delegated by President Yoweri Museveni on his behalf, read out loud and clearly the message of President Museveni to Egypt in particular.

Museveni, through the Prime Minister, said, “Tell my brother Egypt that the Nile belongs to all of us. No one should ask permission from another. This causes irregularities, and such irregularities can hold us back from going forward”. If my ears did not betray me, then I heard the Prime Minister conclude that “I was told not to add or subtract anything from the message by President Museveni”.

Cold air began filling the hall, and delegates broke into murmuring with one another. I felt it myself. I felt the heaviness of that message and its straightforwardness. I was happy with the message because I want this issue between Egypt and Sudan to be solved once and for all.

While concluding the forum, every delegate was tasked with the ambassadorial role of advocating for the ratification of the cooperative framework agreement to allow it to come into force. It is not too late for South Sudan and DR Congo to sign and ratify the agreement. I look forward to the day when South Sudan and DR Congo will pick up their pens, sign, and ratify the cooperative framework agreement.

The author is a medical student, University of Juba.

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