By Menna Zaki
Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Member plans to meet with foreign ministers of the Nile Basin countries in July to discuss amendments to the Entebbe Agreement over the allocation of Nile water, the minister announced in a Wednesday statement.
He added that discussions would take into account the importance of the Nile water in meeting the economic needs of Egypt.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said in a press release that Egypt considers Tanzania’s proposal an important step to protect the interests of all Nile Basin countries and enable them to achieve the maximum benefit of the Nile River.
According to Abdelatty, the issue of the dam currently being built in Ethiopia will not be discussed “directly”, but rather within the framework of the Entebbe Agreement.
Abdelatty added that the Tanzanian initiative reflects the understanding of the Nile Basin countries regarding the importance of the Nile to Egyptians, due to the unavailability of an alternative source of water.
The Entebbe Agreement, signed in February 2011, includes Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi, and would increase the share of Nile water for these countries at the expense of downstream countries. Egypt did not sign the agreement, as Mohamed Bahaa ElDin, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation at the time, said that it was not “suitable for downstream countries” and was “against the interests of Egypt and Sudan”.