From: Henry Wasswa, Associated Press
Published March 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Experts from 10 African nations meet to discuss plan on sharing waters of the Nile

KAMPALA, Uganda — Experts from 10 African countries that use the waters of the Nile River began a weeklong meeting Monday in Uganda to work out how nations can share the benefits of the huge natural resource.

The experts, who include engineers and attorneys, are planning to write a proposal on how to develop the resources of the Nile Basin, said Nsubuga Ssenfuma, an official in the Ugandan Ministry of Water.

The closed-door talks, which are taking place in Entebbe, 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the capital of Kampala, are being held under the auspices of the Nile Basin Initiative, which was formed in 1999 to study how to manage the river for power generation, irrigation, and transport.

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.

Meraji Msuya, executive director Nile Basin Initiative, said the meeting will also discuss a treaty drawn up in 1929 between British colonialists and Egypt that gives preferential treatment to the north African country.

Under the treaty, which is still in effect, other Nile Basin countries are not allowed to implement projects on the Nile that would reduce the volume of water reaching Egypt without first consulting Egyptian authorities, Msuya said.

The 10 Nile Basin countries — Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda — surround the fabled river and the streams and lakes from which it springs.

The White Nile, which begins from Lake Victoria, is joined in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, by the Blue Nile, which draws water from western Ethiopia highlands. The combined river flows through northern Sudan and Egypt until it empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

All the Nile Basin countries are poor nations, and the river and its sources provide vital resources for irrigation, fishing, and power.

Source: Associated Press

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