Nile issues on agenda of PM’s upcoming Africa tour

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced on Thursday that he will make an African tour to discuss Egypt’s rights to Nile water in early May, noting that he has received “positive signals” with regards to this issue.

Meeting with the Egyptian Diaspora in Doha at the conclusion of his Gulf tour, Sharaf said in around ten days he would travel to Ethiopia, Congo and Uganda and possibly other countries. "We have created a completely different environment and there are very encouraging signals from Ethiopia.

“We have strategies and we have talked to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. We all believe that each country has the right to develop but that it must do so without infringing on others’ rights," he said.

Sharaf attempted to assuage any fears that Egypt might compromise its water share, saying there are upstream projects in the works that might increase water flow to Egypt.

Egypt is against a water agreement signed by upstream Nile countries Uganda, Rawanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Burundi that changes Egypt and Sudans historical rights to water flow. The treaty will take effect when it is endorsed by the parliaments of signatory countries.

In a reversal of colonial-era agreements, the new pact gives Nile Basin countries the right to develop irrigation projects and establish dams without securing Egypt’s permission. The existing 1929 treaty gives Egypt and Sudan the right to nearly all of the Nile's flow as well as veto power over any upstream project.

Egyptian officials have been taking steps to improve relations with Nile Basin countries by holding meetings with senior diplomats from Kenya, Ethiopia and other countries.

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