Published: Thursday 15 July 2004

The third round of negotiations among the 10 African riparian states of the Nile to establish an institutional and legal framework on the sharing of the river's waters was held in Kampala, Uganda, from May 31 to June 4. In the parleys on the issue, countries are continuing to put national interests above regional benefits. This has made the possibility of cooperation far more difficult than envisaged originally.

However, Meraji Msuya, former executive director of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which helps in organising the talks, said the most important development was that the countries were meeting regularly, holding discussions openly, exchanging viewpoints and ironing out differences. NBI is an attempt by Nile countries to cooperate on the use of the river's resources. The earlier meetings were held in December 2002 and in March 2003, and the process is likely to take a long time (see: 'Smooth sailing', Down To Earth, April 30, 2004). The new treaty will replace two earlier pacts that give Egypt unfair control over the use of the river.

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