INDEPENDENT SOUTH SUDAN TO RESPECT NILE WATER AGREEMENTS
The soon to be independent South Sudan – expected to be on 09th July this year – has recently met with an Egyptian delegation seeking to establish ties with the Southern leadership. Key issue on the agenda was the River Nile and its waters, with the ‘White Nile’ or Bahr el Jebel flowing through the South’s territory.
It is understood from Juba, that the Egyptian delegation’s interpretation that the new country would respect the agreements, was seen as an endorsement of the 1929 and 1959 treaties the British colonial governments forced upon the newly independent countries of Eastern Africa was not accurate. Only recently did Burundi sign on to the new Nile Basin Initiative’s new treaty framework, and the South Sudan will respect THAT agreement, as the majority of the countries involved in the long negotiations had now affirmed the new treaty as binding. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia had already signed the treaty ahead of everyone else but with Burundi coming on board, it is only Congo Dr, Egypt and the regime in Khartoum to remain ‘outside’. After the South Sudan becomes independent, the new country too is expected to ratify the ‘new’ treaty’ which is removing the veto powers of Egypt and sets new percentages for the use of the waters of the River Nile. Termed by this correspondents as the ‘water producers’ the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia Congo are all generating what flows into the Nile via their water towers, rivers and lakes contributing to Lake Victoria and Lake Albert, while the ‘Blue Nile’ makes its way from Ethiopia to Khartoum, joining with the ‘White Nile’ to make ‘The Nile’.
Said a usually reliable source from Juba to this correspondent: ‘we will stand with our brothers and sister in East Africa on this. We will join EAC as soon as we can and we will not pursue a different line from what they have agreed about the Nile waters. What Khartoum then does is their business, but we look South from here on, not North.’
Considering the tourism potential already tapped into in Uganda, where a variety of adventure activities on the River Nile are in place, the South Sudan too has the opportunity to replicate such developments and will be able to ‘sell’ water based tourism activities to the international tourist markets alongside the wildlife national parks and game reserves, their culture and history.
In a related development has the cabinet of the government of South Sudan approved the recommendations of the special commission formed to determine a range of independence related issues, sanctioning the name ‘Republic of South Sudan’, the new national flag derived from the SPLM/A’s own flag, the national anthem and issues related to the new currency, to be named the South Sudan Pound – the latter dashing hopes from parts of East Africa that the new currency would be names the South Sudan Shilling. However, with a common currency for members of the East African Community advancing at a good pace, this will in a few years anyway become a distant memory, when the internal borders of the EAC come down and free movement of people and goods will be matched by ONE currency.
Way to go, upcoming Republic of South Sudan.