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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Issues in Development: The Development and Prosperity of Nile Basin Nations as between Historical Rights and Comparative Advantage (1-4)

In 2009 after being so much disappointed with the various unnecessary and illogical talks about historical water rights specially

on the part of Egypt I wrote a long article in on Tuesday 1st December 2009 under the title, ”Can the Nile waters be thought of in a different Way?” I was basing myself on a wider approach to the problem of the Nile Basin; I tried to propose a model or project idea taking into consideration the vision that was initiated about more than two decades ago.”The Nile Basin Initiative.” NBI for short. My proposal was based on the idea of considering water as an important factor of production available to all members of the NB in accordance with each member comparative advantage rather than in the context of outdated historical rights as shall be explained later. However, I was not fortunate to get any feed back because it seems that every member country of the NB was sticking to its historical rights or maybe unaware of what could come out of being together in such a noble. Or might be the governments of the riparian countries have yet not fully realized the significance of mutual cooperation. Or that those who read the proposal might have thought of it as a crazy idea which cannot be brought to reality!! That is why I thought of  reproducing the major elements of the idea or model in the hope that after more many  decades  the NBI governments and people might have become wiser (hopefully) and ready to work together in harmony to avoid potential disastrous  conflicts.
The NBI aimed at;
* To develop the Nile Basin (NB) resources in a sustainable and equitable was to ensure prosperity,. security and peace for all its people.
* To ensure efficient water management and optimal use of the resources.
* To insure cooperation  and joint action between the riparian countries seeking win-win gains.
* To target poverty eradication and promote economic integration.
* To insure that the programme results in a move from planning to action.
* Lay the ground work for cooperative action through  a regional programme to build confidence and capacity throughout the basin.
* Pursue, simultaneously, cooperative development opportunities to realize physical investments and tangible results through  sub-basin activities.
* The strategic plan of NBI  aims at working out plans. The fist one is concerned with the programme of joint vision and the second on the programmes of tributary basins. In addition to the joint projects of the NBI and programmes and pubic projects to manage water resources.. The various projects cover a number of areas such as infrastructure, energy connections which will include electricity links as well as other industrial and commercial projects.
* The NBI has its organizational set up which constitute the Ministerial Council(which consist of Irrigation and Water Resources in the NB) followed by  a Consultative Technical Committee (consist of highly qualified engineers) as well as regional offices in Addis Ababa,  Uganda and the capital Rwanda.
This in brief is the idea of the NBI as known to me  at that time (2009).Since its inception in 1999, numerous meetings and conferences were held in various capitals of the riparian countries and studies were executed as well as designing a number of joint projects. It was an idea that was concerned with the welfare of many millions who were destined to live on and around the shores of this great river. Therefore, one would like to make a follow up since 1999 and see how far the NBI had succeeded or failed to achieve its noble objective. What were the challenges and obstacles if any that stood in the way. This is said because it seems that the issue of the Nile waters is at present taking an undesirable turn which might lead to serious conflicts in the whole region specially among the major users , Sudan, Ethiopia and  Egypt. These countries are at present passing through very serious developments on the issue of the Nile waters.
We shall try to make a follow up of the developments in the initial idea and discuss what could be done to bring the Nile Basin nations into a more concrete collaboration   through considering water as a major factor of development. In addition to that to consider nations comparative advantage and not historical rights and therefore, achieve the required prosperity  for the Nile Basin nations and its people.