A new agreement signed recently in Uganda that aims at reallocating shares of the Nile water will not affect Egypt, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in Cairo on Monday.
Mr. Odinga told a joint press briefing with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Nazif that “there is no intention to affect Egypt’s water security,” adding that there will be further negotiations between the concerned parties.
He added that “nothing is engraved in stone, and in the future we can reach an accepted (agreement) after negotiations.” Mr. Odinga arrived in the Egyptian capital late on Saturday amid an escalating crisis over control of the waters of the Nile.
On Wednesday, Kenya became the fifth country to sign a treaty after Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, which aims at increasing the share of Nile water of these countries for irrigation and hydropower projects.
Egypt and Sudan strongly oppose the agreement, fearing that their lion’s share of the water supply would be severely reduced.
On Sunday, both Mr. Odinga and Congolese President Joseph Kabila met with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak and said that that a consensus must be reached “to achieve mutual interests for the Nile basin countries.” Mr. Nazif said that Egypt would “strictly” defend its rights, and that all Nile basin countries should discuss and negotiate any projects along the Nile.
Egypt, which depends mainly on the Nile for its water consumption, has vowed to take legal action to maintain its current water rights that it has described as a “red line” not to be crossed.
The Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), the cabinet’s think tank, warned last year that the country’s water needs would surpass its resources by 2017.
Egypt is allocated 55.5 billion cubic metres of water from the Nile each year, under a 1959 agreement with Sudan that was based on 1929 promises from Britain that it will not undertake projects in its East African colonies that would interfere with Egypt’s water supply.
Some press reports claimed Israel wants to pressure Egypt by supporting the construction of dams in some of the upstream countries in order to reduce the water flow in the Nile.
Mr. Odinga denied this, adding “We will not allow any foreign interference to harm Egypt.”